Concerns about the recent developments in the situation of lawyers in Egypt
Lawyers for Lawyers is concerned about the recent reports of new cases filed against Egyptian lawyers Mahienour El-Massry, Amr Imam, Ibrahim Metwally Hegazy and Mohamed El-Baqer. We are also concerned about the conditions set for the release of Mohsen Bahnasi release.
According to our information, lawyer Mahienour El-Massry was interrogated on 30 August 2020 on charges of ‘belonging to a terrorist organization, publishing false news, and misusing social media’. El-Massry’s lawyer, Khaled Ali, pointed out that these accusations seem unlikely due to the fact that El-Massry is not allowed any visitors or means of communications in prison. Reportedly, this new case was filed against El-Massry to keep her in pre-trial detention. El-Massry has been in pre-trial detention since her original arrest on 22 September 2019.
Lawyers for Lawyers was informed that lawyer Amr Imam was interrogated on a new case on 26 August 2020 on charges of ‘joining a terrorist group and receiving funding to commit terrorist crimes’. Allegedly, the allegations do not specify the name of the terrorist group in question or any proof of received funds. It was reported that Amr Imam’s pretrial detention for this case has been set for 15 days.
Frontline Defenders reported that lawyer Ibrahim Metwally Hegazy was charged with ‘taking leadership of a terrorist group’ on 6 September 2020. Allegedly, this new case is used to keep Ibrahim Metwally Hegazy in detention, after he was released under conditions on 26 August 2020 from charges made against him in September 2017.
Furthermore, it was reported that a new case has been filed against lawyer Mohamed El-Baqer on similar charges and allegedly with the same purpose to extend pre-trial detention. Lawyers for Lawyers has expressed concerns about his case before in May 2020 and October 2019.
The release of lawyer Mohsen Bahnasi on 31 August 2020 seems like a positive development, but Lawyers for Lawyers is concerned about the conditions for his release. So far, it remains unclear what the conditions for his release are.
According to Article 16 of the United Nations (UN) Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers, governments should ‘ensure that lawyers (a) are able to perform all of their professional functions without intimidation, hindrance, harassment or improper interference; (…) (b) are able to travel and to consult with their clients freely both within their own country and abroad; and (c) shall not suffer, or be threatened with, prosecution or administrative, economic or other sanctions for any action taken in accordance with recognized professional duties, standards and ethics’.
Lawyers for Lawyers therefore calls upon the Egyptian authorities to guarantee in all circumstances that lawyers in Egypt are able to carry out their legitimate professional rights and duties without fear of reprisals and free of all restrictions, including judicial harassment.
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