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On 7 December 2016, Azza Soliman, a leading human rights defender from the Center for Egyptian Women’s Legal Assistance (CEWLA), was arrested and interrogated in Egypt under accusations of receiving foreign funding. Though reports say she has been released on bail of 20,000 Egyptian pounds, she and other social justice advocates are increasingly being targeted by authorities.  Just last month, Azza was stopped on her way to Jordan where she was to train women’s groups. With absolutely no notice, she was shocked to learn that she had been banned from traveling, and that that all of her assets had been frozen. Currently, Azza is completely unable to work or to travel and her critical work to support the human rights of women and girls is under severe threat. Her case is expected to be deliberated on 12 December.

Other human rights defenders, including Aida Seif El-Dawla, director and co-founder of El Nadeem Center for Rehabilitation of Victims of Torture and Violence, and Mozen Hassan, founder of the Egyptian Nazra for Feminist Studies organizations, have also been subjected to threats by the government and banned from traveling.

TAKE ACTION! HELP US PROTECT AZZA AND OTHER HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS.

A new draft law, “The Law on Civil Societies and Foundations and Other Entities Working in the Civil Sphere,” will worsen this situation and, if signed by the President, will make what Azza is facing an everyday challenge for human rights defenders in Egypt.  CEWLA and other women’s rights groups, including El Nadeem Center and Nazra, have been working for years to address female genital mutilation (FGM), sexual violence, discrimination in law and harmful practices to women and girls. The draft law will be especially harsh towards women’s rights groups as they will be forbidden from carrying out any activities that could “harm…public morals.” Many harmful traditional practices, such as FGM and child/forced marriage, were once seen as necessary to uphold public morals. Under this provision, activities to end these human rights violations and to encourage women’s political participation and economic empowerment could be threatened.

Equality Now has worked with CEWLA for many years to protect girls’ rights. CEWLA was instrumental in highlighting the tragic FGM-related death of 13 year old Soheir El Batea which ultimately led to the first ever conviction for the crime in 2015. Years of work for women and girls could be threatened under a vaguely worded law that gives the government absolute impunity to halt the important work of non-governmental organizations (NGOs). The law would require all NGOs to report to the government and seek permission to carry out a wide range of activities.  Under the law, cooperation by NGOs with any international body – even the United Nations – would be punishable by five years’ imprisonment of staff and heavy fines against the NGO.  It also calls for severe punishment of NGO leaders who receive funding from abroad if not approved by the government.  This heavy-handed approach to civil society will eliminate voices of and for women and girls.  It is also contrary to the many international human rights treaties that Egypt is party to, such as the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.  It also contradicts global commitments under the Sustainable Development Goals, especially Goal 16 to promote the rule of law and ensure access to justice for all and Goal 5 to recognize and uphold women’s and girls’ equal rights.  Finally, it is directly damaging to Egypt itself.  A thriving civil society and promotion and protection of the rights of women and girls only serves to enrich countries as a whole.     

JOIN US! Women’s human right’s defenders are often attacked as visible representatives of their community.  Around the world, women and girls continue to be threatened and victimized daily by gender based violence.  Egypt is no exception and by severely curtailing the ability of activists such as Azza, Aida, Mozen and others to speak, women and girls are losing the voice of brave champions, resulting in serious consequences for human rights and for justice. 

Please call on President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi to reject this extreme and damaging law. Let him know that women’s rights are too important to be swept away so carelessly. Also, please call on the Prosecutor General to drop the charges and overturn the travel bans on Azza, Aida, Mozen and others and to release their assets. Thank you!

 

President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi
President of Egypt
Heliopolis Palace
Cairo
Arab Republic of Egypt
Email: media.office8@op.gov.eg

Judge Nabil Sadek
Prosecutor General
Office of the Public Prosecutor
Madinat al-Rehab
New Cairo, Arab Republic of Egypt
Tel.: +202 2574 3751-2576 0468
Fax: +202 2577 4716

Mr. Mohamed Hossam Abel-Rahim,
Minister of Justice
Ministry of Justice
Fax: +20 2 2795 8103

Ms. Ghada Wali
Minister of Social Solidarity
Ministry of Social Solidarity
Fax: +20 2 3337 5390

Dr. Maya Morsi
President of the National Council for Women
Fax: +20 2 2349 0072

Dr. Mohamed Fayek
President of the National Council for Human Rights
Fax: +20 2 376 4852

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URGENT ALERT: HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS UNDER ATTACK IN EGYPT
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Letter to the President:

Dear President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi,

I am deeply concerned about the continued harassment and mistreatment of Ms. Azza Soliman, who is trapped inside her own country by your government. This administration is closing down the civic space for feminists. And with the continued closure of NGOs like the El Nadeem Center for the Treatment and the Rehabilitation of Victims of Violence, support for women and girls who are victims of violence and discrimination continues to deteriorate.

The Government’s actions are in clear violation of the Constitution, and human rights treaties that Egypt is a party. The State is taking direct aim at human rights defenders across the country, like Mozen Hassan and Aida Seif El Dawlah, who also continue to be barred from leaving the country.

The recently agreed Sustainable Development Goals reinforce what international law has established for years - that justice is required (Goal 16) and that the rights of women and girls must be respected (Goal 5). By lifting the restrictions on feminists in Egypt, you have an immediate opportunity to show your commitment to upholding these goals.  Egyptian women and girls are relying on you.

I join Equality Now, the Center for Egyptian Women’s Legal Assistance, El Nadeem Center and the Egyptian Nazra for Feminist Studies in calling for justice for human rights defenders. Please work to stop the harassment of NGOs which are supporting victims of violence, torture and discrimination. Thank you for your prompt attention to this matter.

Yours sincerely,

 

Letter to Judge Nabil Sadek, Prosecutor General 

Dear Judge Nabil Sadek,

I am urging you to drop the charges against human rights defenders and immediately lift travel bans and release assets that have been frozen. These bans and freezing of assets against Azza Soliman, Aida Seif El Dawla and Mozen Hassan were carried out without any prior notice. This contravenes accepted notions of justice and accountability and signifies unwarranted interference by the government. This is especially true of women’s human rights defenders who speak for and represent the serious issues affecting countless vulnerable women and girls in Egypt.

I join Equality Now and the Center for Egyptian Women’s Legal Assistance, Al Nadeem Center and Nazra organizations in calling for justice for Azza Soliman and the other activists.  Thank you for your prompt attention to this matter.

Yours sincerely,

Salsa Id: 
23881
Action Date: 
Monday, September 25, 2017
Action Status: 
Letters Sent (Auto): 
2830
All Letters Sent (Auto): 
2871

On 7 December 2016, Azza Soliman, a leading human rights defender from the Center for Egyptian Women’s Legal Assistance (CEWLA), was arrested and interrogated in Egypt under accusations of receiving foreign funding. Though reports say she has been released on bail of 20,000 Egyptian pounds, she and other social justice advocates are increasingly being targeted by authorities.  Just last month, Azza was stopped on her way to Jordan where she was to train women’s groups. With absolutely no notice, she was shocked to learn that she had been banned from traveling, and that that all of her assets had been frozen. Currently, Azza is completely unable to work or to travel and her critical work to support the human rights of women and girls is under severe threat. Her case is expected to be deliberated on 12 December.

Other human rights defenders, including Aida Seif El-Dawla, director and co-founder of El Nadeem Center for Rehabilitation of Victims of Torture and Violence, and Mozen Hassan, founder of the Egyptian Nazra for Feminist Studies organizations, have also been subjected to threats by the government and banned from traveling.

TAKE ACTION! HELP US PROTECT AZZA AND OTHER HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS.

A new draft law, “The Law on Civil Societies and Foundations and Other Entities Working in the Civil Sphere,” will worsen this situation and, if signed by the President, will make what Azza is facing an everyday challenge for human rights defenders in Egypt.  CEWLA and other women’s rights groups, including El Nadeem Center and Nazra, have been working for years to address female genital mutilation (FGM), sexual violence, discrimination in law and harmful practices to women and girls. The draft law will be especially harsh towards women’s rights groups as they will be forbidden from carrying out any activities that could “harm…public morals.” Many harmful traditional practices, such as FGM and child/forced marriage, were once seen as necessary to uphold public morals. Under this provision, activities to end these human rights violations and to encourage women’s political participation and economic empowerment could be threatened.

Equality Now has worked with CEWLA for many years to protect girls’ rights. CEWLA was instrumental in highlighting the tragic FGM-related death of 13 year old Soheir El Batea which ultimately led to the first ever conviction for the crime in 2015. Years of work for women and girls could be threatened under a vaguely worded law that gives the government absolute impunity to halt the important work of non-governmental organizations (NGOs). The law would require all NGOs to report to the government and seek permission to carry out a wide range of activities.  Under the law, cooperation by NGOs with any international body – even the United Nations – would be punishable by five years’ imprisonment of staff and heavy fines against the NGO.  It also calls for severe punishment of NGO leaders who receive funding from abroad if not approved by the government.  This heavy-handed approach to civil society will eliminate voices of and for women and girls.  It is also contrary to the many international human rights treaties that Egypt is party to, such as the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.  It also contradicts global commitments under the Sustainable Development Goals, especially Goal 16 to promote the rule of law and ensure access to justice for all and Goal 5 to recognize and uphold women’s and girls’ equal rights.  Finally, it is directly damaging to Egypt itself.  A thriving civil society and promotion and protection of the rights of women and girls only serves to enrich countries as a whole.     

JOIN US! Women’s human right’s defenders are often attacked as visible representatives of their community.  Around the world, women and girls continue to be threatened and victimized daily by gender based violence.  Egypt is no exception and by severely curtailing the ability of activists such as Azza, Aida, Mozen and others to speak, women and girls are losing the voice of brave champions, resulting in serious consequences for human rights and for justice. 

Please call on President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi to reject this extreme and damaging law. Let him know that women’s rights are too important to be swept away so carelessly. Also, please call on the Prosecutor General to drop the charges and overturn the travel bans on Azza, Aida, Mozen and others and to release their assets. Thank you!

 

President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi
President of Egypt
Heliopolis Palace
Cairo
Arab Republic of Egypt
Email: media.office8@op.gov.eg

Judge Nabil Sadek
Prosecutor General
Office of the Public Prosecutor
Madinat al-Rehab
New Cairo, Arab Republic of Egypt
Tel.: +202 2574 3751-2576 0468
Fax: +202 2577 4716

Mr. Mohamed Hossam Abel-Rahim,
Minister of Justice
Ministry of Justice
Fax: +20 2 2795 8103

Ms. Ghada Wali
Minister of Social Solidarity
Ministry of Social Solidarity
Fax: +20 2 3337 5390

Dr. Maya Morsi
President of the National Council for Women
Fax: +20 2 2349 0072

Dr. Mohamed Fayek
President of the National Council for Human Rights
Fax: +20 2 376 4852

Letter to the President:

Dear President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi,

I am deeply concerned about the continued harassment and mistreatment of Ms. Azza Soliman, who is trapped inside her own country by your government. This administration is closing down the civic space for feminists. And with the continued closure of NGOs like the El Nadeem Center for the Treatment and the Rehabilitation of Victims of Violence, support for women and girls who are victims of violence and discrimination continues to deteriorate.

The Government’s actions are in clear violation of the Constitution, and human rights treaties that Egypt is a party. The State is taking direct aim at human rights defenders across the country, like Mozen Hassan and Aida Seif El Dawlah, who also continue to be barred from leaving the country.

The recently agreed Sustainable Development Goals reinforce what international law has established for years - that justice is required (Goal 16) and that the rights of women and girls must be respected (Goal 5). By lifting the restrictions on feminists in Egypt, you have an immediate opportunity to show your commitment to upholding these goals.  Egyptian women and girls are relying on you.

I join Equality Now, the Center for Egyptian Women’s Legal Assistance, El Nadeem Center and the Egyptian Nazra for Feminist Studies in calling for justice for human rights defenders. Please work to stop the harassment of NGOs which are supporting victims of violence, torture and discrimination. Thank you for your prompt attention to this matter.

Yours sincerely,

 

Letter to Judge Nabil Sadek, Prosecutor General 

Dear Judge Nabil Sadek,

I am urging you to drop the charges against human rights defenders and immediately lift travel bans and release assets that have been frozen. These bans and freezing of assets against Azza Soliman, Aida Seif El Dawla and Mozen Hassan were carried out without any prior notice. This contravenes accepted notions of justice and accountability and signifies unwarranted interference by the government. This is especially true of women’s human rights defenders who speak for and represent the serious issues affecting countless vulnerable women and girls in Egypt.

I join Equality Now and the Center for Egyptian Women’s Legal Assistance, Al Nadeem Center and Nazra organizations in calling for justice for Azza Soliman and the other activists.  Thank you for your prompt attention to this matter.

Yours sincerely,

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