Posts Tagged ‘Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies’

Egypt: crackdown and new NGO law dont augur well

July 25, 2019

On 23 July 2019 FIDH, the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) and the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies (CIHRS) denounce the new crackdown and call on the Egyptian authorities to immediately end any act of harassment, including at the judicial level, against all peaceful activists, in particular political opponents and human rights defenders in Egypt, such as former member of Parliament and human rights lawyer Zyad al-Elaimy. At least 83 persons, including political opposition activists, journalists and human rights defenders, have been arrested in Egypt over terrorist charges since June 25 for their alleged implication in a plot against the State.Human Rights Watch published the next day an elaborate report on Egypt’s New NGO Law which renews draconian restrictions and imposes disproportionate fines and bans links with foreign groups. Here some key elements but the ful lreport should be read:

Egypt: the ‘foreign-funding’ accusation against human rights defenders goes in overdrive

April 3, 2018

An Egyptian lawyer, Samir Sabry, has requested the Attorney General to bring human right defender Asmaa Mahfouz to court. The reason? Winning the Sakharov Prize in 2011! If Egypt Today had reported it a day earlier (on 1 April), I would have credited it as a good April 1st spoof, but unfortunately it is not. In his complaint, Sabry called for the Attorney General to transfer Mahfouz to a Criminal Court trial and ban her from travelling outside the country. He stated that the prize, worth €50,000  was given to her suddenly, and he did not know why. He asked whether it is funding, a reward, or for certain service, and what the reason is for this award. The complaint from Sabry also claimed that this is a Jewish award [SIC} and questions the award’s links to Zionism. According to Sabry, the answer is that Mahfouz received the prize money, and accepted the award, in return for betraying Egypt.

Asmaa Mahfouz was one of the founding members of the April 6 Youth Movement, which sparked nation-wide demonstrations in April 2008 and was indeed awarded the Sakharov prize in 2011 (sharing it with four other Arab figures).

The prize in question is the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought [http://trueheroesfilms.org/thedigest/awards/sakharov-prize-for-freedom-of-thought], which is of course is not granted by Israeli but by the European Parliament!

However, the issue of foreign funding is a major one in the Egyptian context as demonstrated by the case of two Egyptian woman human rights defenders in the ‘NGO foreign-funding case” (as ISHR reminds us on 29 March 2018):  harassed and targeted Egyptian woman defenders Azza Soliman and Mozn Hassan [https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2017/02/02/right-livelihood-has-to-go-to-egypt-to-hand-mozn-hassan-her-2016-award/] face life imprisonment if their cases are brought to trial simply for conducting legitimate human rights work.

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Egypt court freezes assets of rights defenders and NGOs

September 18, 2016

Human rights activist Gamal Eid says the case is politically motivated revenge [Asmaa Waguih/Reuters]

An Egyptian court has approved a freeze on the assets of five prominent human rights activists and three non-governmental organisations in a case related to accepting foreign funds without government authorization. Saturday’s decision paves the way for criminal proceedings against the defendants, who have been accused of “pursuing acts harmful to national interests”. They face life sentences of up to 25 years each if found guilty. The rulings can be appealed.

Gamal Eid, a vocal critic of President Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi, is among those affected by the order of the Cairo Criminal Court. “We know from the start the case is political and the aim is revenge against NGOs that expose the state’s abuses,” said Eid, the head of the Cairo-based Arab Network for Human Rights Information.

The assets of Hossam Bahgat, the founder and former director of the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights, will also be frozen. The court also froze the assets of three organisations and their directors; the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies and its director Bahey el-Din Hassan, the Hisham Mubarak Law Centre and its director Mostafa al-Hassan, and the Egyptian Right to Education Centre and its director Abdelhafiz Tayel. Bahgat, Eid, and nine others are also banned from travel in connection to the case that has been going on since 2011.

Amnesty International described the court order as a “shameless ploy to silence human rights activism”. Egyptian rights activists say they are facing the worst assault in their history amid a wider campaign to erase freedoms won in a 2011 uprising that ended Hosni Mubarak’s 30-year rule. Independent United Nations experts said in April that Egypt is closing down domestic NGOs and putting travel bans on their staff in order to obstruct scrutiny of human rights issues. See earlier posts: https://thoolen.wordpress.com/tag/egypt/

Source: Egypt court freezes assets of rights defenders and NGOs – News from Al Jazeera

Monday 25 April: what will happen in Egypt?

April 25, 2016

Brian Dooley, Director of Human Rights First’s Human Rights Defenders Program, wrote in the Huffington Post that today, Monday 25 April 2016, could be a watershed day for Egypt‘s military leader. This day is a national holiday Egypt which marks the 1982 withdrawal of Israeli troops from Sinai. President Sisi‘s agreement to hand over the two uninhabited islands of Tiran and Sanafir in the Red Sea to Saudi Arabia may put a spark into the constantly simmering discontent in the human rights movement.

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Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies, 21 years old, deserves to be supported

May 11, 2015

Some NGOs of a regional character do not always get the international recognition they deserve. One example is the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies [CIHRS]  which celebrated its 21st anniversary in Tunisia on 23 may in Tunis.

It had a remarkably high level attendance including the Minister of Justice Mohammed Saleh Bin Eissa, the Moroccan ambassador, and diplomats and representatives of the embassies of the US, EU, UK, France, Belgium, Japan, Finland as well as the director of the Tunis bureau of the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Dimiter Chalev. Also present were many representatives of international and local civil society, among them Idris al-Yazmi, the head of the National Council for Human Rights in Morocco; al-Mukhtar al-Tarifi, the representative of the International Federation for Human Rights in Tunisia, and Bushra Belhaj, the chair of the rights and liberties committee in the Tunisian parliament.

The occasion was inaugurated with a one-minute silence in tribute to the victims of human rights abuses and terrorism in the Arab region. This was, followed by a note sent by the High Commissioner on Human Rights Zeid Bin Raad al-Husseini, who was unable to attend. In the note, he said that the Arab world was currently facing two related challenges: the transition to more stable democratic societies and the alarming increase in violence in the context of the rise of ISIS and other extremist takfiri groups. This lends even greater importance to rights organizations in the region that can analyze these difficulties, spread a culture of tolerance, promote respect for human rights, and engage in a constructive dialogue on cultures and global human rights standards. For more than two decades, Raad said, the CIHRS has been engaged in these missions, becoming a strong advocate and defender of human rights that has won international recognition and several awards. It also enjoys credibility in the region, having given a voice to those who are afraid to speak and stood up against religious bigotry and hate speech.

Tunisian Minister of Defense Farhat Horchani also sent a note of congratulations to the CIHRS, expressing his regret for being unable to attend. This may be the first time a rights group has received such a missive from a defense minister in the region. Horchani, who has no military background, was the dean of the Faculty of Law and Political Science in Tunis, the chair of the Tunisian Association for Constitutional Law, and a member of several other civic associations. A UN expert, he was also a member of the High Body for the Realization of the Objectives of the Revolution in Tunisia. The Ministry of Women apologized for not attending, but also sent its congratulations and wished the CIHRS the best for its new start in Tunisia.

During the celebration, special tribute was paid to Minister of Constitutional Bodies and Civil Society Kamal Jendoubi, the chair of the CIHRS board of directors.

CIHRS director Bahey eldin Hassan expressed his gratitude to all those who supported CIHRS in its long journey on the regional and international levels, and noted that this is an historic moment for the Arab region, with increased concern for the respect for human rights. It is no coincidence, Hassan added, that the collapsed states (Syria, Libya, and Iraq) in which terrorist chose to settle, were ruled by the worst of the dictatorships for more three decades.

[Founded as a regional organization in 1994 in Cairo, the CIHRS developed its perspective on change and its priorities and strategies based on its vision of the nature of the human rights problem in the Arab world. It began to expand with the goal of strengthening its capacities to defend human rights, establishing an office in Geneva to promote coordination and ties between rights organizations in the Arab world and the OHCHR and the UN Human Rights Council. In 2014, it opened a regional branch office in Tunis and appointed a permanent representative in Brussels; it intends to soon open a branch office in another country.]

CIHRS celebrates its 21st anniversary in Tunisia and honors chair Kamal Jendoubi » Press releases » News – StarAfrica.com – News – StarAfrica.com.

Cairo Institute launches a new research project on political islam and human rights

September 28, 2014

On September 25, in an event held at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London, the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies [CIHRS ] launched a new three-year academic research project on political Islam and human rights.   Read the rest of this entry »

Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies assesses UN Human Rights Council latest session

October 4, 2013

Looking back at the 24th session of the United Nations Human Rights Council which came to an end last Friday, the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies  [CIHRS] is disappointed to see how timid the Council becomes when dealing with human rights in the Arab region. Indeed, the people of Syria, Sudan, Bahrain, Egypt, Palestine, and Yemen need all the support they can get to move their countries towards political stability and the rule of law. The Council should be a driving force in confronting cases of human rights violations and making recommendations to address them.

CIHRS notes with regret Read the rest of this entry »

13 NGOs urge Human Rights Council to stay focused on Sudan

September 19, 2013

(Sudanese IDPs – (c) AI private)

In a long letter to the UN Human Rights Council now in session a group of 13 NGOs urges the Council to continue monitoring Sudan.  The letter has two main chapters on:

Conflicts in Darfur, Southern Kordofan, and Blue Nile, ………and

Repression of Civil and Political Rights……….

The letter ends with urging the Human Rights Council to:

  • condemn the human rights violations in Darfur, Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile, as well as the government’s continued use of indiscriminate bombing in all three states, attacks on civilians, and other abuses by government forces and allied militia;
  • establish an independent investigation into ongoing human rights violations in Southern Kordofan, Blue Nile, and Darfur, and report back to the Human Rights Council promptly;
  • urge Sudan to grant humanitarian agencies access to Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile states, in compliance with international human rights and humanitarian law obligations;
  • express concern over the continued restrictions of basic civil and political rights, and the continued harassment of critics of the government, including the practice of arbitrary detention, torture and ill-treatment, preventing meaningful public dialogue on critical issues at a time when Sudan is preparing to adopt a new constitution and for national elections in 2015;
  • urge Sudan to reform its repressive National Security Act of 2010 and other laws granting immunity to officials, seriously investigate allegations of human rights violations and hold perpetrators to account;
  • renew the special procedure country mandate on Sudan for at least three years under Item 4 with a clear mandate to monitor and report twice a year to the Human Rights Council and the General Assembly on violations of human rights in all parts of Sudan.

——-

Earlier on AI’s Global Blog, Khairunissa Dhala, Researcher on Sudan/South Sudan team at Amnesty International has answered her own question: “Does the human rights situation in Sudan still require a UN-mandated Independent Expert to monitor and report back on developments?” as follows: “Given Sudan’s dire human rights situation – ongoing armed conflicts in three different states, restrictions on freedoms of expression, association and assembly, including arbitrary arrest and torture of human rights defenders and activists – it is hard to imagine that there is even a question on whether this is needed. But we’ve been here before.  

Two years ago, I attended the HRC’s 18th session where members of the Council reached a “compromise” on human rights monitoring in Sudan. It was a “compromise” because, while the Independent Expert’s mandate was renewed, it solely focused on providing technical assistance and capacity-building support to the national authorities. In other words, the Independent Expert would no longer be asked to monitor the human rights situation in Sudan. [….]Compromising on the Independent Expert’s mandate was seen as a concession to Sudan by the international community. A concession given to a country where widespread and systematic violations and abuses of international human rights and humanitarian law are taking place.

But there should be no compromise on human rights. Since then, the Independent Expert’s mandate has successively been renewed to provide technical assistance, while the awful human rights situation in Sudan calls for a clear need for monitoring.. Conflict remains ongoing in Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile, to the detriment of the civilian population. Over the past two years I have interviewed numerous men, women and children from these two states. They have shared harrowing accounts of how their loved ones were killed when bombs dropped by Antonov aircrafts, from high altitudes, by the Sudanese Armed Forces, landed on their homes. Coupled with ground attacks by Sudanese forces and the armed opposition group the SPLA-N, this conflict has led to more than 200,000 people fleeing to refugee camps in South Sudan and Ethiopia, in addition to the tens of thousands of internally displaced people in the two areas. The Sudanese authorities are still denying unhindered humanitarian access to all affected areas. Meanwhile, in Sudan’s Darfur state, a decade after the start of the armed conflict, the crisis is ongoing and violence has again intensified. This year alone, more than 300,000 people were forced to leave their homes behind, fleeing violent clashes between predominantly ethnic Arab groups.

Across Sudan, freedom of expression, association and assembly also remain restricted. Journalists and activists face constant harassment, arbitrary arrests, as well as torture and other forms of ill-treatment by Sudan’s National Intelligence and Security Service. Given the critical human rights situation, any compromise on the Independent Expert’s mandate is an abdication of the Human Right Council’s duty to promote and protect human rights in Sudan…..The Independent Expert should have their mandate strengthened to monitor Sudan’s human rights situation under item 4 (Human rights situations that require the Council’s attention) and report twice a year to the Council and the UN General Assembly on violations of international human rights and humanitarian law taking place anywhere in the country.”

Read more:

Sudan: Letter to the UNHRC regarding the renewal and strengthening of the special procedure mandate on the situation of human rights in Sudan

Why monitoring human rights in Sudan still matters | Amnestys global human rights blog.

Egyptian NGO bill with big shortcomings in crucial last phase

May 31, 2013

Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi
(Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi)

In the context of restrictive legislation to hinder the work of human rights defenders, the Egyptian case deserves urgent attention now. The law on NGOs is being rewritten in this important country and others in the region may follow the example. Despite recent amendments Read the rest of this entry »

Egypt: human rights defenders speak in Geneva and are sentenced at home

March 15, 2013

 (@SAIDYOUSIF)

The Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies (CIHRS) presented an oral intervention before the Human Rights Council on 12 March, 2013, in which it expressed its concerns over the continued deterioration in the situation of human rights in Egypt since President Mohamed Morsi took power. The oral intervention was based on the assessment of members of the Egyptian NGO Forum, a collective of 23 independent human rights organizations in Egypt, on the situation of human rights in Egypt during the first 8 months of Morsi’s presidency.  It asserted that three major rights-related crises have been seen over this period: undermining of the independence of the judiciary, violations to the right to free expression and media freedoms, and violations to the right to assembly and peaceful protest. http://www.cihrs.org/?p=6159&lang=en

In addition, CIHRS organized a side event at the HRC, on 11 March, featuring representatives of the Egyptian NGO Forum, including Mohammed Zaree, director of the Egypt Roadmap Program at CIHRS, Masa Amir, researcher at Nazra for Feminist Studies, and Nihad Abboud, from the Association for Freedom of Thought and Expression. The event was chaired by Ziad Abdel Tawab, deputy director of the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies. He expressed concern for an independent civil society in Egypt, referring to recent attempts by the current government to put in place unprecedented restrictions on the funding and activities of  non-governmental organizations.

Next, Nihad Abboud drew attention to the violations which have been committed against journalists and photographers as examples of the threats to freedom of expression and of opinion in Egypt.  Ms. Abboud further pointed out that the right to freedom of expression is particularly targeted in the context of the right to protest. She spoke about draft legislation to regulate demonstrations, stating that the draft law contains many restrictions on the right to free assembly by allowing the authorities broad powers to ban or restrict demonstrations. ..Perhaps most worrying is that the new constitution includes provisions which restrict on the right to free assembly for the first time in Egypt. Masa Amir turned to the precarious situation of women human rights defenders in Egypt, reminding the audience of the specific targeting of women through virginity tests and other violations by the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces.  The side event was concluded with the call that the international community should reassess its engagement with Egypt, in order to avoid replicating the mistakes of the past, including support for dictatorships which blatantly violate human rights.

Frontline NEWlogos-1 condensed version - cropped

As if to demonstrate the precarious situation of HRDs in Egypt Front Line Defenders reports that the Egyptian Human rights defender Hassan Mustafa sentenced to two years imprisonment on 12 March by the Mansheya Misdemeanour Court in Alexandria on charges of allegedly assaulting a member of Alexandria Prosecution Office. Numerous supporters of the human rights defender gathered in front of the Courthouse at the time of the hearing to protest against his trial and demand his release. Hassan Mustafa is a well-known human rights defender in Alexandria who has defended the rights of detainees and campaigned on issues such as police brutality and economic rights. According to Hassan Mustafa’s lawyer, the Court heard only two out of fifteen testimonies, of witnesses who denied that he assaulted the Prosecution Office member.

http://www.frontlinedefenders.org/node/22008