Joint statement on the situation in Egypt – International Fair Trial Day
Today, 14 June 2022, marks the International Fair Trial Day (IFTD), which will be observed for the second time worldwide. The focus country of the IFTD this year is Egypt, a country that is and has been suffering for many years from systemic human rights violations and a serious lack of fair trial standards.
On the occasion of the IFTD, drawing attention to the deteriorating situation in the country, the undersigned organisations call upon the Egyptian authorities to immediately take the necessary steps to comply with the right to a fair trial in Egypt and to create an environment in which these fundamental procedural rights can effectively be protected. The undersigned organisations also call upon the international community to increase their efforts to draw attention to the situation in Egypt, with a particular focus on compliance with the right to a fair trial.
Background of the IFTD
In response to the serious failure of the judicial system in Turkey to protect and respect fair trial principles, lawyers Ebru Timtik and Aytaç Ünsal began a hunger strike in January 2020. They expressed a common demand of many thousands who were subjected to arbitrary investigations, trials, arrests, detentions, and wrongful convictions. They called on the Turkish government to comply with its obligations to secure and respect the right to a fair trial and to end practices constituting systemic violations of this fundamental right. On 5 April 2020, on Lawyers’ Day in Turkey, they turned their hunger strike into a death fast to underline the vital importance of this demand. Ebru Timtik lost her life on 27 August 2020, the 238th day of her death fast, while Aytaç Ünsal ended his protest on 4 September 2020 following a temporary release order by the Supreme Court that was later withdrawn. He was returned to prison on 10 December 2020 and is still in detention.
Fundamental rights and freedoms and principles of the rule of law are under attack globally. In many countries, including European countries, there are reports documenting governmental oppression and practices undermining international human rights obligations. Thus, those who carry out activities to condemn, draw attention to, and criticise these practices are under constant pressure from the state apparatus, including pressure from the judiciary, whose independence and impartiality is being seriously undermined. Attempts are being made to silence lawyers, human rights defenders, journalists, opposition politicians, academics and many others raising their voices against such policies through baseless charges, prosecution and conviction e.g. under anti-terror legislation.
The International Fair Trial Day was established along with the Ebru Timtik Award to advocate for the re-establishment of fair trial rights in those countries where fair trial rights are under serious threat. The occasion will be used by the international community to focus on the situation in the country chosen for that year as the focus country and to draw attention to the fair trial issues faced there. Also, an annual Ebru Timtik Award is granted to an individual and/or an organisation from the focus country that has been active in defending and or promoting the right to a fair trial in that specific country.
2022 Ebru Timtik Award
The 2022 Ebru Timtik Award has been granted to imprisoned Egyptian lawyers and human rights defenders, Mohamed El Baqer and Haitham Mohammadein.
Read the full statement here.
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