ECWR Condemns the attack on Lawyers, Human Rights’ Defenders and Activists and Demands Accountability from officials

attack on journalists, human rights activists

(Cairo, April, 2, 2013) ECWR condemns the serious violations that occurred during the demonstrations on the evening of Friday, March 29, 2013. These Friday demonstrations were dubbed “Nobody Threaten Us” by protesters. Officials cracked down on these protests and both male and female lawyers were assaulted inside the detention rooms, where thirteen lawyers and activists were detained in the El-Raml police station in Alexandria. Some of the female lawyers were sexually abused. Those detained included Mabinur El-Masry, Youssif Shaban, Naser Khatab, Mohammad Mamdouh, Mohamad Ezz El-Regal, Mohamad Ramadan, Salwa Basher, Heba El-Sayed, Mohamad Mostafa , Mohamad Salam, Ehab Labeb, Mohamad El-Maghraby, and Mohamd Rashad. It is worth mentioning that -according to statements by the detainees’ lawyers- the security forces and some Muslim Brotherhood personnel attacked them and beat them severely. They were tortured and dragged to the detention rooms. Two of the female lawyers were sexually abused which was an unprecedented action. Also, this is an example of organized crime against female activists and and human rights defenders which aims to exclude women from participation in the public sphere. This is not only a violation of Egyptian law, the Egyptian legal practitioners’ law, and human rights in general; it is also a severe violation of the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders. As Article 2 states: “Each State has a prime responsibility and duty to protect, promote and implement all human rights and fundamental freedoms, inter alia, by adopting such steps as may be necessary to create all conditions necessary in the social, economic, political and other fields, as well as the legal guarantees required to ensure that all persons under its jurisdiction, individually and in association with others, are able to enjoy all those rights and freedoms in practice. Also, Article 12 included the duties of the government to protect the Human rights defenders as follows: 1. Everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, to participate in peaceful activities against violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms. 2. The State shall take all necessary measures to ensure the protection by the competent authorities of everyone, individually and in association with others, against any violence, threats, retaliation, de facto or de jure adverse discrimination, pressure or any other arbitrary action as a consequence of his or her legitimate exercise of the rights referred to in the present Declaration. 3. In this connection, everyone is entitled, individually and in association with others, to be protected effectively under national law in reacting against or opposing, through peaceful means, activities and acts, including those by omission, attributable to States that result in violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms, as well as acts of violence perpetrated by groups or individuals that affect the enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms. As the 2010 Egyptian Legal practitioners’ law states as follows: Article 51: You cannot interrogate a lawyer or search his office without a permit from the public prosecutor. The public prosecutor should inform the lawyers syndicate and should give them enough notice before starting the interrogation. If a lawyer is accused of something related to his work, the head of the syndicate should attend the interrogation himself, or send a lawyer. The syndicate has the right to request a copy of the interrogation without paying any fees. Article 54: Anyone who has assaulted a lawyer verbally or non-verbally, or threatens him during his work, will receive the same punishment given to anyone who commits the same offense against a judge.

ECWR condemns these unprecedented violations, which we consider a continuation of the systematic crimes supported or tolerated by the current regime. Therefore, ECWR demands an immediate investigation and calls for accountability from the officials responsible.

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