BHRC leads international outcry over treatment of Egyptian lawyers and human rights defenders

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The Bar Human Rights Committee of England & Wales (BHRC) has spoken out today on behalf of lawyers facing persecution in Egypt, supported by an international coalition of Bar Associations, Law Societies and other human rights organisations.

In an open letter to President Sisi, BHRC condemns Egypt’s ongoing arrests and detention of lawyers, excessive and punitive use of pre-trial detention, and the intimidation and harassment of human rights defenders. BHRC calls for immediate action from the Egyptian authorities, including the release of all lawyers detained in violation of international law.

The letter has been published jointly by BHRC, EuroMed Rights and the Cairo Institute of Human Rights Studies, with a large number of supporting signatures from international human rights organisations and representative bodies of the legal profession, including Bar Associations and Law Societies from England & Wales, Scotland, France, Belgium, Spain, Darfur and South Africa.

In addition to publishing the joint international letter, BHRC has also submitted a complaint to the UN Special Rapporteur for the Independence of Judges and Lawyers, alongside EuroMed Rights and the International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute.

In the complaint, BHRC and their co-authors call for the Special Rapporteur to investigate the arrest and detention of prominent Egyptian lawyer Malek Adly. Mr. Adly was arrested on 5 May 2016 after challenging the Egyptian government’s transfer of two Red Sea islands to Saudi Arabia. He was held in solitary confinement for 115 days, in contravention of international law.

BHRC’s Chairwoman Kirsty Brimelow QC said:

“Egypt continues to harass, intimidate and arrest lawyers and human rights defenders simply for carrying out their work. BHRC welcomes the support and engagement of Bar Associations, Law Societies and human rights organisations from around the world in holding the Egyptian government to account.

BHRC calls on President Sisi and the Egyptian government to release all lawyers held in violation of international law, to properly investigate the arrest and detention of Malek Adly and others subjected to illegal arrest or imprisonment, and to guarantee the future safety and independence of all lawyers in Egypt”

Read BHRC’s joint international letter here

Read BHRC’s complaint to the UN here

(Image credit: Lillian Wagdy via flickr)


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