The ICJ today called on the Egyptian authorities to immediately release human rights lawyer Malek Adly and to drop all charges against him. He was arrested on Thursday 5 May 2016, pursuant to an arrest warrant.
Malek Adly has been charged with a number of offences, including “attempting to overthrow the regime,” “spreading false rumors,” and “using force against a public servant.”
The Prosecuting authorities have not provided information on specific behaviour that would constitute criminal conduct.
The ICJ is concerned that the charges may be in retaliation for Malek Adly’s work as a lawyer and human rights defender, and are aimed to chill him and others from engaging in work perceived as threatening to or disfavoured by Egyptian authorities.
They came at the backdrop of his work as a human rights lawyer, his critical views on the rule of law situation in Egypt, and his legitimate and peaceful exercise of freedom of expression and assembly in opposing transferring the sovereignty of Tiran and Sanafir islands from Egypt to Saudi Arabia, the ICJ says.
“Malek Adly’s arrest, detention and prosecution for carrying out his work as a lawyer and human rights defender and for peacefully expressing his views is yet another attempt by the Egyptian regime to muzzle lawyers, the last line of defence for victims of human rights violations in Egypt,” said Said Benarbia, Director of the ICJ Middle East and North Africa Programme.
“The regime’s crackdown on fundamental rights and freedoms has been worryingly extended to the very lawyers whose role is to challenge and protect against such crackdown,” he added.
Over the last three years, the ICJ has documented numerous cases of lawyers who have been subjected to human rights violations and reprisals in relation to the representation of their clients.
These include the cases lawyers Imam Afifi and Karim Hamdi who were allegedly subjected to torture and subsequently died while in police custody.
International standards aiming to safeguard the role of lawyers provide that States have a duty to ensure that lawyers are able to perform their functions “without intimidation, hindrance, harassment or improper interference” and that lawyers must not be subject to prosecution or other sanction for carrying out their professional responsibilities, the Geneva-based organization reminds.
International standards on human rights defenders require States protect human rights defenders from attacks, threats, retaliation and arbitrary action.
The Egypt 2014 Constitution guarantees the “independence of the lawyer’s profession and the protection of its interests as a guarantee to protecting the right to defence”. In addition, it prohibits the arrest of a lawyer while he or she is exercising the right to defence, except in flagrante delicto crimes.
“The Egyptian authorities must live up to their obligations under the Constitution and international law and put an immediate end to their attacks against lawyers,” concluded Benarbia.
Nader Diab, Associate Legal Adviser of the ICJ Middle East and North Africa Programme, t: +216 51727023; e: nader.diab(a)icj.org
Egypt-HR Lawyer MalekAdly-News-Press Releases-2016-ARA (full text in Arabic, PDF)NewsPress releases