Daily Archives: 31/07/2021

Egypt: Renewed Judicial Harassment of Rights Defenders

31/07/21

Human rights activist Gamal Eid is seen at a court in Cairo, March 24, 2016.

 Egyptian authorities have summoned at least five prominent human rights defenders during July 2021 for questioning as part of a decade-old criminal investigation, Human Rights Watch said today. The authorities have used Case 173 of 2011 to arbitrarily prosecute leading rights defenders and organizations over allegations of receiving foreign funds.

Since 2016, authorities have summoned for interrogation dozens of members of nongovernment groups, mostly human rights organizations, and placed over 30 of them on arbitrary travel ban lists, and frozen the assets of over a dozen organizations and individuals. Three of the five people summoned in July had not been questioned previously. The case has had a chilling impact on civic space in Egypt.

“Egyptian authorities should close Case 173 once and for all, and stop harassing independent rights organizations for doing their work,” said Joe Stork, deputy Middle East and North Africa director at Human Rights Watch. “The repeated summons, on top of travel bans and asset freezes, is clearly a tactic to stifle civic space in Egypt.”

Those summoned most recently include Mozn Hassan, a women’s rights defender and director of Nazra for Feminist Studies and Hossam Bahgat, director of the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights, on July 29. On July 27, the authorities summoned Gamal Eid, director of the Arab Network for Human Rights Information, and Negad al-Borie, director of the law firm United Group. On July 15, the authorities summoned Azza Soliman, women’s rights defender and director of the Center for Egyptian Women Legal Awareness. The authorities had not previously summoned Bahgat, Eid, or al-Borie despite banning them several years ago from leaving the country.

Based on social media posts and statements by the activists following the latest prosecution sessions, the questions by the investigative judge, Ali Mokhtar, focused on the activists groups’ funding, in some cases as far back as 2005.

Judge Mokhtar allowed them to look at the prosecution file, which consisted mainly of National Security Agency allegations against them and their organizations, such as “tarnishing the image of the government” and in some cases referencing reports these organizations published about human rights abuses. The judge did not allow any of them to take copies of the prosecution files or inform them of the actual charges they are being investigated for.

The Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI) said in a statement that Eid’s interrogation lasted about three hours and that the judge ordered him to return for another session on August 1. The statement said that the prosecution file, which Human Rights Watch has not seen, included National Security Agency allegations that Eid and ANHRI had played a role in the country’s 2011 nationwide uprising, and that ANHRI had received funding from Human Rights Watch and the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ). CPJ has denied those allegations. Human Rights Watch is typically not a grant-making organization, Human Rights Watch said.

[…]

https://www.hrw.org/news/2021/07/31/egypt-renewed-judicial-harassment-rights-defenders

https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2021/07/egypt-crackdown-on-human-rights-defenders-continues-amid-ongoing-foreign-funding-investigation/

https://www.madamasr.com/en/2021/07/28/feature/politics/government-source-authorities-inclined-to-close-long-running-case-targeting-ngos-yet-travel-bans-may-remain/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Azza_Soliman

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gamal_Eid

https://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Azza_Soliman (FRANCAIS)

https://www.giustiziainsieme.it/it/il-magistrato/1894-mahienour-el-masry-difendere-ad-ogni-costo-i-diritti-umani-in-egitto-prima-e-dopo-la-rivoluzione-del-nilo-di-federico-cappelletti (ITALIANO)

China: Lawyer’s Account of Meeting With Detained Civil Rights Activist Ding Jiaxi

15/07/21

July 13, 2021, a summer day in Beijing. The sun was emerging after a rain shower. I waded through puddles on the road heading for Beijing South Railway Station.

It was getting pretty late when the high-speed train arrived in Linyi. Getting off the train, I ran into a former colleague whom I hadn’t seen for years but had long wanted to meet. Whether by a heartfelt wish or divine coincidence, it is such crossing of paths, accidental or planned, that fill life with richness. On this trip, I was to go to Linshu County Detention Center in Linyi City to meet Ding Jiaxi (丁家喜). Having been accused of subverting state power, he has been detained for more than a year and six months. I know Linyi because of a blind citizen who years ago was imprisoned, and placed under house arrest after being released from prison, for helping victims of China’s violent birth control policy.

On the morning of July 14, I came to the Linshu County Detention Center and was told by the police at reception to “wait for notice” after submitting a request form for interviewing my client.

In the afternoon, I went to the Linyi City Procuratorate, which was responsible for the case, and contacted the prosecutor of the case asking for continuing to review the case file. Ding Jiaxi was placed under residential surveillance at a designated location (RSDL) from December 26 2019 until June 19 2020, when his arrest was approved. After the end of the two-month investigation period, the Shandong Provincial Procuratorate three times approved the extension of the investigation period for five months. On January 18, 2021, after the completion of the public security investigation, the case was transferred to the Linyi City Procuratorate for review and prosecution, and the latter twice returned the case to the Public SecurityBureau for supplementary investigation. Currently, the case is under a third review by the Linyi City Procuratorate.

Up until then, the Procuratorate had informed the defense lawyers that because the case “involved state secrets,” they were not allowed to take photos or make copies of the case files and were only allowed to review them under the prosecutors’ supervision. The defense lawyers believe that this restriction on copying case files violates Criminal Procedure Law and restricts lawyers’ defense rights. They filed objections requesting to correct errors and to allow lawyers to take photos or copy case files, but the requests were denied. There are more than 40 volumes of files with information on many people, time, places, procedures, and evidence. Not being allowed to copy files has impeded the lawyers from getting all the facts of the case and preparing for the defense.

Just as I finished reviewing the case files in the evening and was walking out of the Linyi Municipality Procuratorate building, the Linshu County Detention Center called and informed me that I was allowed to meet Ding Jiaxi in the afternoon of July 15.

On the morning of July 15, with the half-day spare time before the meeting, I went to the Linyi Municipality Procuratorate again and reviewed some key procedures and evidence, the two supplementary investigation case files submitted by the Public Security Bureau, and other related files.

[…]

https://chinachange.org/2021/07/30/lawyers-account-of-meeting-with-detained-civil-rights-activist-ding-jiaxi/

https://www.frontlinedefenders.org/en/case/case-history-ding-jiaxi

https://www.frontlinedefenders.org/en/case/ren-quanniu-barred-establishing-legal-services-company

https://www.independent.co.uk/news/chinese-farmer-who-praised-lawyers-sentenced-to-18-years-xi-jinping-beijing-chinese-hebei-b1892040.html

Nicaragua: Ortega’s Police Arrest Defense Attorney Maria Oviedo

30/07/21

There are now 31 new political prisoners since the end of May and over 140 total.

The Police of Daniel Ortega and Rosario Murillo arrested lawyer Maria Oviedo, coordinator of the special legal team of the Permanent Commission on Human Rights (CPDH), on Thursday July 29th in Leon, confirmed that human rights organization.

The president of the Nicaraguan Center for Human Rights (CENIDH), Vilma Nunez, said that Oviedo was at her mother’s house when two police vehicles and around thirty policemen arrived to arrest her. She was then taken from Leon to the infamous New El Chipote Police Complex, in Managua.

At first, the reasons for the arrest were unknown. “They took her out of her mother’s house, where she was brushing her teeth. They did not let her take anything with her. They just took her away (…),” assured Nunez.

Later it became known that Oviedo was arrested for the catch-all treason Law 1055, used to imprison opposition leaders, politicians and activists.

The capture occurs in a context of worsening governmental repression against opponents, which has left dozens of new political prisoners, and greater risk for their defense lawyers, who have denounced, under anonymity, being victims of harassment, threats and criminalization of their profession. With Oviedo, there are 31 Nicaraguans, including seven presidential candidates arrested in the latest wave of repression.

Oviedo participated last Sunday in the online Esta Semana program to analyze the violations of the rights of recent political prisoners, some with more than 60 days incommunicado from their relatives and lawyers.

The lawyer questioned the reform of the Criminal Procedure Code, which states that a person can be detained for up to 90 days for the purpose of “investigation,” which she considered unconstitutional and totally in violation of human rights, she said on that occasion.

[…]

https://www.vice.com/amp/en/article/5dbq9k/a-brutal-crackdown-in-nicaragua-is-fueling-a-new-wave-of-migrants-to-the-us

https://www.france24.com/en/live-news/20210725-another-presidential-hopeful-arrested-in-nicaragua

(ESPANOL)

https://www.laprensa.com.ni/2021/07/30/politica/2858697-detencion-judicial-por-90-dias-para-abogada-maria-oviedo-anuncia-la-fiscalia

https://100noticias.com.ni/nacionales/109100-policia-maria-oviedo-delito-traicion-patria/?mobile

CADAL on Twitter: "Policía de #Nicaragua detuvo a la abogada defensora de  #DerechosHumanos María Oviedo y la trasladó a la Dirección de Auxilio  Judicial El Chipote, ubicada en Managua. Pedimos se respeten

Nasrin Sotoudeh, Iranian Rights Lawyer, Home Temporarily: “We Are Hoping for a Better Future That Can Protect Us”

30/07/21

nasrin-sotoudeh-iran-health-release-prison

Iranian human rights attorney Nasrin Sotoudeh is temporarily home from prison and speaking about her experiences as a political prisoner.

Nasrin Sotoudeh is home from prison on temporary medical leave. That is a simple thing to write, but there is so much emotion, strength, sacrifice, vision and history involved. And so much at stake in what will come next.

The internationally acclaimed Iranian human rights attorney was arrested in June 2018 because of her work representing opposition activists, religious minorities and women who publicly protested Iran’s mandatory hijab law. Nasrin was sentenced to 38 years in prison and 148 lashes on charges that included “inciting corruption and prostitution,” “disrupting public order,” “propaganda against the state” and “collusion against national security.” She had previously been imprisoned from 2010 to 2013 on similar charges—a heavy price to pay for loving one’s country.

Nelson Mandela said, “No one truly knows a nation until one has been inside its jails.” The Iranian government’s persecution of Sotoudeh reflects a systemic disregard for the needs, rights and dignity of its citizens.

In August 2020, Nasrin launched a 46-day hunger strike in Evin Prison that brought global attention to poor health conditions in Iranian prisons. She was punished for her protest by being transferred, despite a serious heart condition, to an overcrowded windowless cell in the notoriously unsanitary Qarchak Women’s Prison.

Unsurprisingly, she quickly caught a severe case of COVID-19. She was briefly released in January for an overdue angioplasty, but on the day she was abruptly forced to return to prison, she was also informed the authorities had frozen her family’s bank accounts.

Now Nasrin is briefly back home with her husband Reza Khandan, their daughter Mehraveh, and their son Nima. They each live with the fear and uncertainty that the judicial system uses to psychologically break prisoners and their families. However, this is a family that will not be broken.

A few days after her homecoming, my wife Marcia Ross and I talked with Nasrin and Reza, translated by our mutual friend, writer Amir Soltani. We produced the documentary Nasrin, streaming on Hulu, and it has been a great life-changing privilege to become long-distance friends with this remarkable couple.

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