After a hearing at the European Parliament on the crisis of human rights in Egypt: Government refers CIHRS to investigation

Press Release

10 June 2015

Yesterday, the investigating judge in the NGO foreign funding case delegated a committee from the Ministry of Social Solidarity to visit the offices of the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies (CIHRS) in Cairo and look into its activities. While the committee refused to give the CIHRS administration a copy of the judge’s delegation order, the Institute was permitted to read it. According to the order, the committee is tasked with examining whether the CIHRS engages in the activities of civic associations under the provisions of Law 84/2002. This is the practical application of the government warning issued to non-governmental organizations prior to November 10, 2014, although the government claimed it would not follow up on that warning.

On May 28, the director of the CIHRS spoke about human rights in Egypt at a hearing of the Human Rights Committee of the European Parliament. Delivering a speech on behalf of the CIHRS, he criticized the status of human rights in Egypt. Instead of responding to these criticisms, the government has apparently decided to retaliate against the Institute.

“The judiciary system has been politicized and dominated by security bodies; constitutional guarantees have been frozen and systematically undermined both by the executive and judiciary,” The speech also addressed the “catastrophe” facing civil society in Egypt in the form of “Rights NGOs’ and human rights defenders’ activities have been further curtailed, as the range of harassment measures to target them has broadened, from politically-motivated investigations for foreign funding, travel bans and defamation campaigns in the media, to threats against their lives, but also their homes, workplaces and ability to travel.”

In light of these pressures and threats, all international human rights organization were forced to close their offices in Egypt, As for the CIHRS transfered its regional program to Tunisia and kept its Egypt Program operating from Cairo.

Bahey eldin Hassan, the director of the CIHRS and a member of its board of directors, received death threats last year. Having consulted several rights organizations, diplomats, and senior UN officials, he was advised to leave the country. Hassan later informed the president of the National Council for Human Rights of this.

In this context, the undersigned organizations reiterate that the so-called foreign funding case, which has again been made active, is politically motivated. In its first phase, it led to the closure of some five international organizations operating in Egypt and prison sentences of one year (suspended) to five years for various staff members.

The undersigned organizations note that pursuant to amendments made by the president to Article 78 of the Penal Code in September 2014, founders of and officials in civic organizations may face up to 15 years in prison, or a life sentence in the case of public servants.

Signed Organization:

1. Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies

2. Masryoon Against Religious Discrimination

3. Association for Freedom of Thought and Expression

4. National group for human rights and law

5. Nazra for Feminist Studies

6. Hesham Mobarak Law Center

7. Center for Egyptian Women’s Legal Assistance

8. El-Nadeem Centre for the rehabilitation of victims of violence and torture

9. The Land Center for Human Rights

10. Arab Network for Human Rights Information

11. The Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights

12. The Egyptian Center for Economic and Social Rights

13. Egyptian Commission for rights and freedoms

14. Arab Penal Reform Organization

15. The Human Right Association for the Assistance of the Prisoners

16. Andalus Institute for Tolerance and Anti-Violence Studies

17. Alhaqanya Center for Law and Legal profession

18. The Egyptian Center for Public Policy Studies

19. United Group, Attorneys at Law, Legal Researchers and Human Rights Advocates

20. Egyptian Democratic Academy

21.Cairo Liberal Forum (CLF)

22. Cairo Center for Development CCD