August 2, 2017
On 31 July 2017, the Egyptian administrative court endorsed the Social Affairs Ministry’s decision to prohibit United Group’s recognition as a civil society group for purportedly violating the Law on Associations and non-governmental organizations (No. 84, 2002). The ruling effectively prohibits the legal firm from conducting awareness raising activities and workshops about the same Associations and non-governmental organizations law to civil society.
United Group is a law firm in Egypt that provides legal representation and consultations for civil society organizations, non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and human rights defenders. The firm also engages in monitoring and documentation of human rights violations pertaining to freedom of expression and opinion. The firm has also conducted workshops as part of a project aiming to raise awareness among civil society organizations on the Law on Associations and NGOs.
Negad El-Borai is a lawyer, and the Senior Partner of United Group. He is a well-known figure in Egypt’s human rights movement and has been active in promoting a draft anti-torture law. He has carried out workshops on good governance, given lectures on electoral processes and has authored several publications. The human rights defender was also a columnist for Al-Shorouk newspaper and has advocated for freedom of expression, assembly and association. Negad El-Borai resigned from Egypt’s National Council for Human Rights (NCHR) in January 2014, protesting its politicised and inconsistent position on human rights abuses in Egypt.
August 2, 2017
According to a recently published video made by Chen Guiqiu (陈桂秋), a professor of environmental science and the wife of human rights lawyer Xie Yang, Hunan authorities are setting up a large security door equipped with a fingerprint reader, effectively functioning as a prison cell door, outside the family apartment in Yuelu District, Changsha. As the large metal gate in the hallway is being put up, the Special Task Group in charge of Xie Yang’s case has also rented out the adjacent apartment for a permanent security presence to watch over him. Chen Guiqiu explained in the video that the building is a residence for Hunan University professors, and that she owns the title to their apartment. “They’re doing this to put Xie Yang under long-term house arrest, preventing anyone from freely visiting our home.”
On May 8, after nearly two years of imprisonment, Xie Yang was granted probation by a Changsha court. Since then he has been kept in police custody, and even brief meetings with family members have been conducted in the presence of officers. In early July, around the second anniversary of the 709 crackdown, Xie Yang appeared briefly on WeChat, chatting with a number of his legal peers and sharing some photographs of meetings with friends. On July 13 he returned to work at the Changsha Weigang Law Firm, and appeared in perfectly good spirits. On his first day of work he accepted a brief interview with Radio Free Asia. The report, titled “I Did a Deal With the Authorities,” featured Xie Yang explaining how he made a deal with the government before being released, which included him remaining silent about what transpired to him when in custody, and limitations on his professional activities, etc. No further details about this arrangement were disclosed.
During the trial, Xie Yang was made to appear on state media denying that he had been tortured in custody.
A Home Prison Is Being Built for Recently Released Human Rights Lawyer Xie Yang