Letter of protest at the abuse of Malek Adly and campaigning lawyers in Egypt

UPDATE: Malek Adly released 27 August 2016

To: Mr. Magdy Abdul Ghaffar, Minister of Interior, Arab Republic of Egypt
To: Counselor Mohamed Hosam Ahmed Ali Abdel-Reheem, Minister of Justice, Arab Republic of Egypt
To: Counselor Nabil Ahmed Sadiq, Prosecutor General, Arab Republic of Egypt
cc: Egyptian National Council for Human Rights
cc: Governor, Tora Prison
cc: International Committee of the International Bar Association

Dear Minister,

We are writing to express our grave concern at the continued ill-treatment of Malek Adly, prominent human rights lawyer and director of the Lawyers Network at the Egyptian Centre for Economic and Social Rights (ECESR) during pre-trial detention following his arrest on 5 May 2016. Mr Adly has endured more than three months of solitary confinement at the time of writing. His lawyers report that they have been refused permission to photocopy his case files and that the court denied Mr Adly the right to be represented by a lawyer of his choice in a recent appeal hearing against the extension of his detention. Mr Adly moreover has been admitted to the prison hospital several times, due to a chronic high blood pressure condition and lack of prescribed medicine. He suffers from exhaustion,  back pain, and sore joints in his leg. It is getting worse by the day as a result of sleeping on the floor and due to the extremely hot weather and the unbearable humidity. Mr Adly is denied his legal right to exercise according to prison regulations which is leading to most of the above conditions in his back and joints.

Following Mr Adly’s arrest on 5 May, he was accused of, inter alia, attempting to overthrow the ruling regime, affiliation to a banned organization, and broadcasting false news, all of which he denied during questioning. Malek Adly is leading a group of lawyers who filed a legal suit against Egypt’s decision to hand the two islands to Saudi Arabia. We note that the State Administrative court recently upheld the complainants’ case, thus annulling the transfer of the two islands.

We believe that Mr Adly’s conditions of detention, the obstruction of his legal representatives and the charges he is facing are indicative of a wider pattern of repression directed at Egyptian lawyers and campaigners who have been at the forefront of efforts by civil society groups to support Egyptian citizens facing harassment, prosecution and abuse by the state security agencies and the judiciary for the peaceful exercise of their constitutional and internationally-guaranteed rights to freedom of expression and association. We note that Mr Adly is a founding member of the Front for Defending Egypt’s Protesters, a group comprising 34 human rights organisations and independent lawyers, which defends peaceful protesters and documents illegal practices carried out by state police forces against them. We further note that Mr Adly is only one of a number of prominent human rights defenders arrested since April this year, including Ahmed Abdallah and Mina Thabet of the Egyptian Commission for Rights and Freedoms and labour lawyer Haitham Mohamedain.

In its recent report on Enforced Disappearances in Egypt, Amnesty International draws attention to the collusion of state prosecutors in the systematic practice of abductions, torture and detention in unregistered locations by the Egyptian National Security Agency. We are alarmed that rather than demonstrating willingness to stamp out such abhorrent practices, the Egyptian authorities continue to prosecute those who support the victims of this abuse.

We see that Mr Adly’s detention violates his basic right of freedom of expression guaranteed in article 65 of the Egyptian Constitution, in addition to article 96, which ensures the presumption of innocence. We therefore call for the immediate release of Mr. Adly, given that there is no evidence against him, nor is there any legal justification for his detention according to article 134 of the Egyptian Procedures Code, which regulates the conditions under which a defendant may be detained before trial.

The inhumane conditions of Mr Adly’s detention violate his rights according to articles 54, 55, 56 of the Egyptian Constitution in addition to articles 43, and 44 of the Egyptian Prisons Law, plus article 85 duplicate 3 of the Egyptian Prisons Regulations. Therefore, it appears from the circumstances of his arrest and continued detention that the Egyptian Government is failing to respect, Article 9 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights as well as Article 16 of the UN Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers.

Based on all of the above, it is clear that the pre-trial detention is in itself being used as a punishment against Mr Adly. In the event that he remains in detention, we call on the Egyptian authorities for an immediate improvement of Mr. Adly’s conditions so that they meet the standards laid down in Egyptian law.

We are furthermore deeply concerned that judicial procedures in Mr Adly’s case do not meet the requisite standards for a fair trial which are guaranteed by international conventions ratified by Egypt, and enshrined in articles 93 and 151 of the Egyptian Constitution. In particular, Mr Adly has been denied the opportunity to present a proper defence, a right  protected by article 98 of the Egyptian Constitution.

[Additional paragraph to be added for publication as an open letter to EU and UK Foreign Ministers]

We further call on the individual governments of the member states of the EU and the EU itself to take immediate steps to put pressure on the Egyptian authorities to end practices of abduction, torture and abuse of detainees and the obstruction of detainees’ legal representatives. We applaud the decision of the Italian Senate to withhold the authorisation of the provision of military supplies from Egypt in protest at the Egyptian authorities’ failure to cooperate with the investigation into the abduction, torture and murder of Cambridge graduate student Giulio Regeni earlier this year, and we call on our governments to follow the example of Italy unless and until there is credible progress towards the implementation of international standards of justice and human rights in Egypt.

Yours sincerely,

Richard Harvey, QC, Barrister, Garden Court Chambers, UK
Professor Bill Bowring, Professor of Law, Birkbeck, University of London, UK
John Hendy, QC, Barrister, Old Square Chambers, UK
Henry Blaxland, QC, Garden Court Chambers, UK
Declan Owens, Haldane Society of Socialist Lawyers, The Netherlands
Dr Beryl ter Haar, University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands
David Renton, Barrister, Garden Court Chambers, UK
Thomas Schmidt, European Association of Lawyers for Democracy and World Human Rights ELDH, Germany
Brian Richardson, Barrister, Mansfield Chambers, UK
Dr Federico Romoli, Attorney at Law/PhD in Criminal Law and Procedure, Italy
Bjorn Elmquist, Chairman of Legal Affairs Association, lawyer, former MP and member of PACE, Denmark
Isabelle Réghi, Association française des juristes démocrates, France
Clemens Lahner, European Association of Lawyers for Democracy and World Human Rights ELDH, Austria
Elvan Olkun, Progressive Lawyers Association ÇHD, Turkey
Özge Tas, Jurist, Austria
Michael  Goold, Barrister, UK
Johannes Karel Gaasbeek, Day of the Endangered Lawyer Foundation, The Netherlands
Progress Lawyers Network, Belgium
Şerife Ceren     Uysal, Progressive Lawyers Assocation ÇHD, Turkey
Robert Sabata Gripekoven, General Secretary, AED (European Democratic Lawyers), Catalonia
James Mehigan, Barrister, Garden Court Chambers, UK
Eeva Heikkila, Barrister, United Kingdom
Marc Willers, QC, Barrister, Garden Court Chambers, United Kingdom
Adrie van de Streek, Lawyers for Lawyers, the Netherlands
Jelle Klaas, Human rights lawyer, Netherlands
Stuart Russell, Former lawyer, law professor and judge, France
Raphaël Kempf, Attorney at Law, Paris, France
Evelyn Dürmayer, UN representative for the International Association of Democratic Lawyers, Vienna, Austria
Attorney Suzanne Adely, , International Co-Chair National Lawyers Guild, United States
Krish Govender, National Association of Democratic Lawyers of South Africa, South Africa
Dr Fabio Marcelli, Research Director at the Institute for International Legal Studies of the National Research Council, Italy
Fausto Gianelli, Democratic Lawyers, Modena, Italy
Giuliana Michelini, Jurist, Italy
Stefano Fratucello, Lawyer, Italy
Dr Natalie Videbaek Munkholm, Department of Law, Aarhus University, Denmark
Lawyer    Francesco Caia, Consiglio Nazionale Forense – Coordinator of the Human Rights Committee    Italy
Dominique Attias, Vice Bâtonnière du Barreau de Paris and Secrétaire Générale de l’Observatoire International des Avocats en Danger, France
Pascal Eydoux, President of the French National Bar Council and President of the International Observatory for Lawyers in Danger, France

Statement organised by Egypt Solidarity Initiative (www.egyptsolidarityinitiative.org). Signatures will be delivered to the Egyptian Ministers of the Interior and Justice, and published with the addition of the final paragraph as an open letter to the EU and UK Foreign Ministers.

Further background information is available online here: