Egyptian state authorities must immediately cease the administrative harassment of the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies (CIHRS), said the Pan-African Human Rights Defenders Network, and the East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project in a joint statement released today.
On 9th June 2015, a committee from Egypt’s ‘Ministry of Social Solidarity’ visited the offices of the internationally respected Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies (CIHRS), purportedly on judicial orders. The Committee refused to provide CIHRS with a copy of the judge’s order, although according to the text (which CIHRS staff members were able to read) the Committee is tasked with examining whether CIHRS is working in compliance with the highly controversial Law 84/2002, including the provision of details of its funding sources and programmatic activities.
Law 84/2002, a relic from the rule of President Hosni Mubarak, is one of the most draconian laws on freedom of association on the African continent. The law empowers the Egyptian government to close any civil society group at will, freeze assets, confiscate property, block funding, or deny requests to associate with international organizations. The law violates every regional and international legal standard on freedom of association.
CIHRS is a one of five network members of the continent-wide Pan-African Human Rights Defenders Network, and serves as an invaluable voice for human rights, and human rights defenders, in North Africa. The targeting of CIHRS appears to closely follow public statements made by the director of CIHRS at a recent hearing of the Human Rights Committee of the European Parliament.
The Pan African Human Rights Defenders Network (PAHRDN) is deeply concerned by the targeting of its network member CIHRS, and the wider crackdown against civil society in Egypt. In an astonishing statement released by Egypt’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs on June 9th, the government accused Human Rights Watch (HRW) of supporting “the practices of terrorism and…the perpetrators of acts of violence and intimidation”. Such assertions have no basis in reality, and follow the publication of an HRW report on human rights abuses committed under the current military government, on 8th June 2015.
In March 2015, at the 28th Session of the UN Human Rights Council, PAHRDN delivered a statement in solidarity with the “many Egyptian NGOs, civil society members, human rights defenders, and individual journalists who have borne the brunt of one of the most extreme clampdowns on the rights to freedoms of expression, association, and assembly that this world has ever known”. As evidenced by this week’s events, this clampdown continues with impunity.
“CIHRS is one of the most respected human rights organisations on the continent, and a pivotal member of PAHRDN”, said PAHRDN’s Chairperson Hassan Shire. “We urge the Egyptian government to immediately cease the administrative harassment of CIHRS and other civil society groups, and to respect the rights of all Egyptian citizens to freedom of association”.
For more information, please contact:
Hassan Shire, Executive Director, East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project on: [email protected] or +256 772 753 753
John Foley, Advocacy & Research Manager, East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project on: [email protected] or +256 789 650996/ +44 7944 252 894