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October 30, 2015

Open letter to HRVP Federica Mogherini on the situation in Egypt.


Dear Ms Mogherini,
Ahead of your visit in Cairo, our organisations, ask you to speak out on the dire human rights situation prevailing
in Egypt and to call the authorities for concrete steps and improvements, this in accordance with the EU
strategic framework and action plan on democracy and human rights.
Since the election of President Sissi, Egypt faces the crackdown on all organized expressions of dissent, treated
as security threats. The recent presidential pardon of 100 persons, including activists and journalists who had
been arbitrarily detained for more than a year, was a tiny step in the right direction. Thousands of political
detainees have been convicted on criminal charges for peacefully protesting, or exercising other constitutional
rights--the President himself has acknowledged there are innocents among those detained, but nothing had
been done to seriously address this. Partial and unjust judiciary fuels radicalization. The absence of political life
renders this radicalization an imminent threat to the stability of the State. It is in Egypts best interest in the near
future that the judiciary be spared from instrumentalisation within the process of political repression.
Counterterrorism has been used as an excuse to adopt legislation that curtails civil society, including human
rights organizations work. Subsequent raids on NGOs, travel bans for activists, ongoing investigations for
receiving foreign funding and daily smear campaigns against human rights defenders in pro-government media,
along with repressive legislation that prohibits foreign funding and restricts the work of NGOs to openly criticize
governmental policies, are all factors that are preventing civil society from being an effective watchdog.
Under the pretext of counterterrorism the Judiciary has been used as an instrument of repression against
political dissent, leading UN experts to describe a number of trials as a mockery of justice. Mass death sentences
in trials that have failed to uphold due process and establish individual guilt also demonstrates the global
deterioration of the judicial system, while officials, police and army officers responsible for using of excessive
force against protesters are immune from prosecution. Sexual violence against women and men during arrests
and detention is used as a weapon of repression in complete impunity1. Torture, ill-treatment and death in
custody are rife in police stations and other places of detention. El Nadeem Center for Rehabilitation of Victims
of Violence has documented at least 74 deaths in custody since the beginning of 2015, many as a result of
inadequate medical care and torture. In June 2015, Freedom of the Brave, the outlawed April 6 Youth
Movement and Students against the Coup reported an increase in enforced disappearances and arrests of young
activists.
Repression widespread human rights abuses and lack of justice is used to terrorize the political opposition and
Egyptian civil society as a whole. The extremely low voter turnout in the first phase of Egypts legislative
1 FIDH report, Stifling Egyptian civil society: Sexual violence by security forces surges under el-Sisi, May 2015, https://www.fidh.org/en/region/northafrica-middle-east/egypt/stifling-egyptian-civil-society-sexual-violence-by-security-forces

elections is an alarming of the desertification of political life in Egypt during the past two years. It also reveals
widespread awareness of the lack of real political choices offered in these elections, meaning there is little at
stake to motivate even pro-government citizens to cast their ballots.
The coming Parliament will have to review the slew of legislation decreed by the executive in the past two years;
yet with little chance of any substantive opposition force in this chamber, it is unlikely to prove able to play the
role of a real counterweight to the executive. The EU should carefully scrutinize this process, asking for
participative process and for ensuring conformity with international human rights standards. The same attention
should be provided on the presidents campaign to amend the Constitution should also be scrutinized carefully.
Therefore, we ask you to urge the Egyptian authorities to commit to:

disclose of the whereabouts of all detainees held incommunicado and immediately grant them access to
their families, lawyers and doctors;

respect fundamental freedoms, including the right to a fair trial in accordance with international standards,
and immediately release and drop the charges against all individuals detained solely for peacefully exercising
their rights to freedoms of expression, association and assembly;

repeal the November 2013 Protest law (Law 107/2013) severely restricting the right to peaceful assembly, as
well as the 1914 Assembly law, and to review both texts to bring them in line with international human
rights law and standards; and release immediately and unconditionally those jailed solely for peacefully
exercising their right to freedom of expression and assembly;

revise the law on associations based on a dialogue with all the relevant stakeholders, so as to comply with
international human rights standards, including regarding access to foreign funding;

conduct independent, impartial and effective investigations into alleged unlawful use of force by the police
and the army and to ensure prompt, independent and impartial investigations into all allegations of sexual
violence, acts of torture and inhuman treatment, prosecute and punish the perpetrators in accordance with
international law;

impose a moratorium on the death penalty with a view to abolishing it;

design and implement a policy to counter the rise of violent extremism, preferring a constructive approach
to promote long-term results of deradicalization and socio-political inclusion of the broader public.

Sincerely yours,
Karim Lahidji
FIDH President