Daily Archives: 07/03/2016

Egypt: Further judicial harassment of human rights lawyer Negad El Borai

March 7, 2016

Negad El Borai

On 3 March 2016, human rights lawyer Mr Negad El Borai presented himself at North Giza Court having been summoned for interrogation on charges of ‘receiving illegal foreign funding’, ‘establishing and running an illegal group’, ‘inciting disobedience of state authorities’, ‘disturbing public order’ and ‘spreading false news’. He was interrogated for over three hours before an investigative judge. At the end of the interrogation, the judge ordered his release on bail pending investigation.

(Negad El Borai is a well-known figure in Egypt’s human rights movement. He is a lawyer and the head of the legal unit at United Group for Law. He is also a columnist for Al Shorouk newspaper and has advocated for freedom of expression, assembly and association. In January 2014, Negad El Borai resigned from Egypt’s National Council for Human Rights (NCHR), protesting its politicised and inconsistent position on human rights abuses in Egypt. The human rights defender was the founder and president of Group for Democratic Development and the Secretary General of the Egyptian Organisation for Human Rights.)

The human rights defender was summoned for questioning three times in May and June 2015, in connection with a workshop convened on 11 March 2015 by the United Group for Law to discuss with other experts its draft-law for the prevention of torture. The draft law aims to bring Egyptian domestic law in line with the United Nations Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.


China: Rights groups launch free Zhang Kai campaigns

March 7, 2016

Rights groups launch free Zhang Kai campaigns

Christian rights groups have tried to ramp up pressure on China’s government by releasing campaigns to try to secure the release of Christian lawyer Zhang Kai after more than six months in detention.

Hopes Zhang might be freed after what appeared to be a coerced confession on video at the end of last month diminished when he was then criminally detained in Wenzhou for helping churches rebuff a campaign in which 1,700 crosses have been removed in Zhenjiang province.

“The Free Zhang Kai Campaign aims to raise awareness to pressure Chinese authorities for Zhang’s release,” China Aid said in a March 5 statement announcing the initiative.

The U.S.-based religious rights group launched the campaign on social media and set up a petition with Change.org calling for China’s President Xi Jinping to release Zhang.



China: China Lets Rights Lawyer Flee to U.S. After Release

March 7, 2016

(Chen Taihe in Beijing. After he was released from surveillance in Guilin, in southern China, he left to join his family in the United States.)

A Chinese lawyer and professor who was detained last summer during a crackdown on human rights lawyers has fled to the United States after being released from surveillance, according to an international human rights group and a statement from the lawyer.

The lawyer, Chen Taihe, 45, joined his wife and children in San Leandro, Calif., on March 1, according to John Kamm, the founder of the Dui Hua Foundation, a group based in San Francisco that works to free political prisoners in China.

Mr. Chen was detained last July in Guilin, in the southern Chinese province of Guangxi, as part of a crackdown that month in which more than 200 rights lawyers and their associates were held. Mr. Chen’s pregnant wife and son, now 8, fled to the United States soon after. The second child, a son now 6 weeks old, was born in the United States.

Mr. Chen’s case was rare in that the authorities released a political prisoner after a lengthy detention and allowed him to leave the country. In recent years, during a broad crackdown on civil society, Chinese officials have detained many rights advocates, sometimes pressing criminal charges.



Israel: Shireen and Medhat Issawi sentenced by Israeli courts: Palestinian lawyers and legal workers targeted

March 7, 2016


Palestinian lawyer and activist Shireen Issawi was sentenced to four years in Israeli prison on Monday, 7 March, and her brother Medhat Issawi to eight years in the same hearing in the Jerusalem central court. Their hearings had been repeatedly postponed; each has already been imprisoned for two years.

Shireen Issawi, a prominent Palestinian lawyer and activist in her own right, was internationally visible as the spokesperson for the campaign to support her brother, Samer Issawi, during his lengthy hunger strike in 2012 and 2013, which won his freedom; freed from prison in the 2011 Wafa al-Ahrar exchange with the Palestinian resistance, he was accused of leaving Jerusalem’s municipal boundaries and thus violating a term of his release. After winning his freedom in 2013, he was re-arrested in June 2014 along with dozens of ex-prisoners, and had his original 26-year prison sentence reimposed. The release of all of these re-imprisoned Palestinians is a major demand of Palestinian political forces.

Shireen, 34, and Medhat, 40, were accused of communicating with and providing funds to Palestinian prisoners that they represented through their legal practice, the Al-Quds Office for Legal and Commercial Affairs, which served as a liasion between families – often denied visits – and Palestinian prisoners, and Israeli lawyers and Palestinian prisoners; they transferred money to prisoners on behalf of their families. The Issawis are Jerusalemites – Palestinian residents of Jerusalem whose identity cards allow them to travel more freely throughout Palestine and visit Palestinian prisoners.

Shireen and Medhat Issawi sentenced by Israeli courts: Palestinian lawyers and legal workers targeted




China: Before International Women’s Day, Feminist Five And Their Lawyers Are Called in by Police

March 6, 2016


Just before International Women’s Day on March 8, the Feminist Five activists in China, as well as their defense counsel, have been spoken to and put under pressure by police, according to friends and lawyers of the activists, communicating via social media.

On March 3, Internal Security police, the branch of the Public Security Bureau focused on internal political threats, sought out the defense lawyers of the feminist activists. They said that they knew that five lawyers had sent a legal opinion to the authorities recommending that the case against the the Feminist Five be withdrawn. Security police asked them which lawyer was in charge of that letter, what their motive was, and to which governmental departments it had been sent.

One lawyer responded: “Firstly, you can take me as the leader. I signed the postage for it and take full responsibility. Secondly, the motive was in the hope that the Beijing police would exhibit a modicum of legal awareness, adhere to procedure, respect human rights, and protect human rights.”

The lawyer then introduced the basic facts of the case of the Feminist Five, and added: “China is supposed to be known as a country of etiquette. Equality between men and women and respect for women is a sign of the level of civilization of a society. That women shouldn’t be subject to sexual harassment is something that all males in a civilized society should be taught. The five feminist activists were arrested by Beijing police simply because they had arranged some events to raise awareness about sexual harassment. The actions of the Beijing police not only have no legal standard, but completely violate normal social ethics. They seem to have a distorted sense of what is good for society and what bad. Do they really want to see, in public places in China, men harassing and humiliating women, with no sense of shame? Do they want to see China’s men turned into a bunch of hoodlums?”

Before International Women’s Day, Feminist Five And Their Lawyers Are Called in by Police


Feminists Mark Setbacks, Progress After Detentions [Updated]