Arrest and harassment of lawyer Mohamed Azmy
Lawyers for Lawyers has grave concerns about the arrest, subsequent release and judicial harassment of human rights lawyer Mohamed Azmy. In a letter to the Egyptian authorities, we expressed our concerns about Mr. Azmy.
Mohamed Azmy is a human rights lawyer and the current President of the General Nubian Union in Aswan, is an organisation that advocates for the right to return of the indigenous Nubian community to their ancestral land. The marginalised Nubian people have been displaced as a result of various governmental projects, such as the construction of the Aswan High Dam in the 1960s.
On 3 September 2017, Mohamed Azmy was arrested together with other human rights defenders during peaceful demonstrations on the occasion of Eid al-Adha. Mr Azmy and other Nubian rights defenders held a peaceful demonstration, demanding the return of Nubians to their ancestral lands. On that same day, Mr Azmy, together with other Nubian activists, was assaulted by security forces, arrested and taken into custody at Shallal Central Security forces camp.
On 15 November 2017, the Aswan Misdemeanor State Security Emergency Court ordered the release of Mr Azmy and other Nubian rights activists pending their trial. They are being prosecuted on charges of “participating in unauthorized protests” and “repeating chants against the State for the purpose of harming public interest”. If convicted, they could face up to five years in prison. The hearing in their case is adjourned to 26 December 2017, following an appeal from the defence team against the trial being held in the State Security Court, which lacks compliance with fair trial standards, and where sentences cannot be appealed.
Lawyers for Lawyers has reason to believe that the arrest of Mr. Azmy is part of a wider crackdown by the Egyptian authorities against human rights defenders, including lawyers, and independent civil society. This year, many lawyers, including Mahienour El-Massry, Khaled Ali, Tarek Hussein, Mohamed Ramadan and Ibrahim Metwally Hegazy were detained. Lawyers for Lawyers will closely follow further developments in Egypt.
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