Submission to the UN Human Rights Committee – Egypt
At its upcoming 134th session, the United Nations Human Rights Committee will adopt a list of issues on Egypt. This is following Egypt’s submission of its fifth report on Egypt’s implementation of the ICCPR in November 2019. Lawyers for Lawyers welcomed the opportunity to contribute to the list of issues on Egypt in preparation for its review by the Committee.
In the report, Lawyers for Lawyers highlights that on basis of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (‘ICCPR’) and the United Nations Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers, lawyers in Egypt are hindered from properly exercising their profession. The report provides case examples of lawyers elaborating on their experiences, for example, facing harassment or persecution due to their work on human rights cases.
The report identifies five trends as particularly worrying. These include the lack of access to clients in detention and lack of lawyer-client confidentiality, threats against, and harassment of, lawyers, the criminal prosecution of lawyers, the violations of freedom of expression of lawyers and, finally, concerns about the independence of the Bar Association in Egypt.
As a result, the professional rights and privileges of lawyers in Egypt are violated systematically. This impairs their ability to provide effective legal representation and consequently severely undermines the proper functioning of the rule of law and the adequate protection of rights to which all persons are entitled, including the rights to effective remedy and fair trial.
Lawyers for Lawyers is recommending the Human Rights Committee to pose the following questions to Egypt concerning the position of lawyers during the review:
- Respond to reports of difficulties of lawyers to access clients in detention centers, lack of access to case documents and the lack of guarantees for the confidentiality of these meetings.
- Provide information on what measures Egypt has taken to ensure that lawyers are able to carry out their professional functions safely and independently without fear of threat, intimidation, hindrance, harassment, improper interference, reprisals, or criminal prosecution.
- Respond to persistent reports of arbitrary criminal proceedings initiated against lawyers in the context of their legitimate professional activities, specifically in relation to the practice of “rotation” and the overly vague provisions of the Penal Code, the Anti-Terrorism Law No. 94 of 2015 (Anti-Terrorism Law) and the Law regulating the list of terrorist entities and terrorists No. 8 of 2015 (Terrorist Entities Law).
- Respond to the reports of harassment, the improper interference, the arbitrary arrest, the prosecutions, and the convictions in relation to lawyers who have exercised their right to freedom of expression.
- Respond to how it is guaranteed that the Egyptian Bar Association can function independently and protect its members from undue interference in their work.
The report can be found here.
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