General: Egypt: Human rights defender Bahey El Din Hassan sentenced to 15 years in prison

26.08.20

The Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR) is outraged at the 15-year sentence handed down against well-known human rights defender Bahey El Din Hassan in Egypt. Hassan, the Director of the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies (CIHRS) has been in exile since 2014 due to death threats and other retribution against him for his peaceful human rights activities.

Following a two-year investigation, on 25 August 2020, the Fifth Terrorism Circuit Court sentenced Hassan under the Penal Code and the Anti-Cyber ​​Crime Law for “the use of social media to defame the judicial authority,” “the dissemination of false news with the aim of harming the country’s economic position” and “disrupting the provisions of the constitution and law.” The charges are based on social media posts and Hassan’s participation in United Nations bodies and other international meetings, such as a human rights conference in Paris.

In a separate case, on 19 September 2019, Hassan was sentenced in absentia to three years in prison and a fine of 20,000 pounds (USD $1257) for a tweet critical of the judiciary’s tactics against human rights defenders; but he only found out about the sentence in March 2020, according to CIHRS. That ruling violates Article 71 of Egypt’s constitution, under which prison sentences cannot be handed down for so-called “publication crimes”.

Since Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi became president in 2014, he has waged a campaign against human rights defenders, including Mohammed Zaree from CIHRS; Gamal Eid and Amr Imam of the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information; Mostafa Fouad of HuMENA for Human Rights and Civic Engagement, and his family; Patrick George Zaki of the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights; Mohamed Al-Baqer of the Adalah Center for Rights and Freedoms; and journalists, bloggers and activists such as Lina Attalah, Mahienour El-Masry, Esraa Abdel Fattah, Alaa Seif Abd-El Fattah , and his sister Sanaa Seif.  

GCHR calls for all supporters, United Nations mechanisms and governments to urge Egypt to drop any charges against Hassan and other human rights defenders, and to free all imprisoned activists, journalists and human rights defenders jailed in violation of their right to free expression. In particular, nobody should be sentenced to prison when COVID-19 is spreading amongst the prison population.

Please tweet your appeals to:

UN special procedures: @UN_SPExperts

United States State Department: @StateDept

United Kingdom Foreign Office: @FCOHumanRights

Copy: @GulfCentre4HR and @CIHRS_en