December 8th, 2016 by Editor
EOHR condemns the arrest of Azza Sulieman
and demands the suspension of the foreign funding case
The Egyptian Organization for Human Rights (EOHR) condemns the arrest of Azza Sulieman the director of the Centre for Egyptian Women’s legal assistance (CEWLA), and calls upon the authorities to suspend investigations of case 173 of the year 2011 also known as the foreign funding case. The prosecutor landed three charges of Mrs Sulieman; those charges are conducting civil society related activities in an illegal manner, recieving funding in illicit ways, and tax evasion. This comes after security forces detained Mrs. Sulieman yesterday in accordance with a prosecutor’s order of arrest related to the foreign funding case.
The prosecuting judge also issued an order to freeze the funds of Mrs. Sulieman and placed her under a travel ban. According to Mrs. Sulieman, security forces arrived at her residence yesterday, and informed her that they have an arrest warrant from the prosecution. These forces proceeded to arrest Mrs. Sulieman, and took her a prosecution office. The authorities released Mrs. Sulieman on bail (20,000 EGP) on the same day. In this respect EOHR sees that the measures taken by authorities against Mrs. Sulieman were exagerated, unnescessary, unconstitutional and that she should have just been summoned by the prosecution.
The foreign funding case goes bakc to 2011, when several civil society organizations were accused of working without proper legal permits, and recieving foreign funding without oversight. Several public personalities were charged in this case, in addition to 19 americans. 17 of the 19 Americans were deported, but the case was not closed and the Cairo criminal court reopened the case last March. The prosecution charges the defendants with several charges that include operating a branch of a foreign NGO illegaly in Egypt, supporting candidates in elections, and mobilizing voters, that in addition to sending reports to their headquarters in the US and funding non governmental actors in Egypt illegaly which violates Egyptian state sovreingty.
EOHR has been following the developments of this case thourghouly since its inception in 2011.
EOHR expresses its concerns regarding the resitrictions being placed on civil society, freedom of association and expression, as it contravenes international human rights law.
EOHR fears that the current state of affaits in Egypt and the genral atmosphere does not encourage civil society, or gurantee freedom of association. EOHR also fears that their is an intention to supress and margenalize the role of civil society in Egypt which played an integral role in revealing the human rights violations of former regimes and governments. EOHR sees that such policies endangers the future of democracy in Egypt.
Hafez Abu Seada the president of EOHR also commented on the latest unfortunate developments. Abu Seada stated that their is a vicious assault on NGOs in Egypt that threatens the democratic transtion which was the main aim of the January 25th revolution. Abu Seada also said that their is a systematic policy that aims to abort civil society and that NGOs are working in a very challenging environment. Abu Seada also demanded that a new civil society law be promulgated that comes in line with international human rights law, and Egypt’s international legal obligations.
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