Les droits de l'Homme et la défense de la Défense

Release of lawyers, including Mahienour El-Massry during COVID-19 Pandemic

UIA-IROL is very much concerned about the situation of human right lawyer and award winning Mahienour El-Massry who remains arbitrarily detained since September 22, 2019 (see letter below).

UIA-IROL believes the charges against Ms. El-Massry are spurious, unfounded by fact, and mainly aimed at punishing her peaceful work defending victims of human rights violations.

As in Ms. El-Massry’s case, dozens of lawyers and human rights defenders have been arbitrarily detained in Egypt and subjected to abusive pre-trial detention systems. In many cases the pre-trial detention to which lawyers are subjected exceeds the two-year legal limit under Egyptian law. This is, for example, the case of human rights lawyer Ibrahim Metwally, who has been imprisoned since September 2017.

The situation in overcrowded Egyptian prisons is particularly disturbing amid the COVID-19 crisis. The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights urged governments to prevent catastrophic rates of infection in prison populations and to release “every person detained without sufficient legal basis, including political prisoners, and those detained for critical, dissenting views.” To date, there has not been a release of such prisoners included in the measures taken in Egypt to counter the pandemic.

What is more, the use of pre-trial detention as a tool to silence dissent continues: on March 27, 2019, during the state of lockdown in Egypt, another lawyer, Mohsen Bahnasi, was arrested and placed in detention.

In a recent letter to Egyptian authorities, UIA requested the release of lawyers, including Mahienour El-Massry during COVID-19 Pandemic (see below).