The Bar Human Rights Committee of England and Wales (BHRC) expresses serious concern at the arbitrary detention of the Egyptian journalist and leading human rights defender, Mr Hossam Bahgat. Although we welcome his release, announced on Tuesday, the unclear circumstances of his detention, interrogation and the charges brought against him, continue to raise concerns.
Mr Bahgat was detained on charges relating to the peaceful expression of his views in newspaper articles, and in breach of Egyptian domestic legislation. His detention was therefore arbitrary, in breach of Article 9 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), to which Egypt is a State party.
Mr Baghat a civilian, was also brought before a military court, in apparent breach of Article 14 ICCPR. The BHRC joins other international organisations in raising serious concerns about the recent broad expansion of military court jurisdiction in Egypt, which deprives civilians of many of the fundamental protections of the civilian court system.
The BHRC is concerned about the ongoing restrictions on freedom of the press in Egypt and the continuing reports of the intimidation of journalists, in breach of Article 19 ICCPR.
The BHRC calls on the Egyptian Government to ensure full respect of the fundamental rights of Mr Bahgat and of all journalists working in Egypt.