Tag Archives: OMCT

Egypt: 32 Nubian human rights activists to appear before the Aswan Misdemeanour State Security Emergency Court

January 25, 2018

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New information

EGY 005 / 1117 / OBS 114.1

Judicial harassment /

Restrictions to freedom of assembly


The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a partnership of FIDH and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), has received new information and requests your urgent intervention in the following situation in Egypt.

New information:

The Observatory has been informed by reliable sources about the ongoing judicial harassment of 32 Nubian human rights defenders actively involved in the defence of minority and Nubian rights in the Aswan governorate, including Messrs. Mohamed Azmy, lawyer and President of the General Nubian Union[1]Maysara Abdoun, Training Coordinator at Border Center for Support & Consulting (BSC)[2], and Ms. Seham Osman[3].

According to the information, on January 30, 2018, Messrs. Mohamed Azmy, Maysara Abdoun, Ms. Seham Osman and 29 other Nubian rights activists will appear before the Aswan Misdemeanour State Security Emergency Court under charges of “participating in an unauthorised protest”, “inciting protests” and “disrupting public order” on the basis of the 107/2013 protest law. If convicted, they could face up to five years in prison and fines of EGP 100,000 (4,734 Euros approx.).

Messrs. Mohamed Azmy, Maysara Abdoun, Ms. Seham Osman and the 29 other Nubian rights activists were arrested and detained throughout September and November 2017, during peaceful demonstrations demanding the rights of the Nubian minority in Egypt to be upheld as well as solidarity demonstrations following the death while in custody of Mr. Gamal Sorour, French-Egyptian resident, prominent Nubian human rights defender (see background information).

The Observatory expresses its concerns over the reprisals against rights activists defending the constitutional Nubian right of return[4], as well as that the exercise of their right to peaceful protest is being prosecuted by a State Security Emergency Court.



Egypt: Arbitrary detention and judicial harassment of Ms. Mahienour El Massry

December 22, 2017


EGY 006 / 1217 / OBS 120

Arbitrary detention /

Judicial harassment

December 22, 2017

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a partnership of the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) and the FIDH, requests your urgent intervention in the following situation in Egypt.

Description of the situation:

The Observatory has been informed by reliable sources about the arbitrary detention and judicial harassment of Ms. Mahienour El Massry, human rights lawyer known for her activism in favour of judicial independence and prisoners’ rights by organising peaceful protests, support activities for political prisoners and using social media to denounce human rights violations.

According to the information received, on November 18, 2017, the Misdemeanor Montaza Court in Alexandria ordered the detention of Ms. Mahienour El-Massry pending trial, in relation to the protests against the Tiran and Sanafeer land agreement in June 2017[1], which has resulted in the arrest of 60 activists throughout the country[2]. She is accused of “participating in an unauthorized protest”, “insulting the President” and thuggery. The next hearing is scheduled on December 30, 2017.

On December 16, 2017, Ms. Mahienour El-Massry’s family went to visit her in Qanater El Khayereya Women’s Prison in Cairo. There, they were told that she had been deported to Damanhour prison, which is closer to Alexandria.

Thus, on December 17, 2017, Ms. Mahienour El-Massry’s family went to Damanhour prison to visit her. They reported that Ms. Mahienour El-Massry had been in a put in a “waiting room” since her transfer. The waiting room was reportedly overcrowded and Ms. Mahienour El-Massry was prevented from eating, drinking or using the toilet. In addition, as the decision to transfer her to Damanhour prison was very sudden, Ms. Mahienour El-Massry was unable to pack all her needs when she left Qanater prison.

The Observatory recalls that Egyptian authorities have a long history of harassing and detaining Ms. Mahienour El-Massry. Already, in January 2014, she was sentenced to 2 years in jail for exercising her right to peacefully protest against police violence. Her sentence was reduced in appeal to six months[3].






Urgent latest update on Mahienour’s situation in prison as of 21 December
عن وضع ماهينور في سجن دمنهور بحسب زيارة عائلتها بالأمس 21 ديسمبر

Mahienour’s family has visited her again after she was moved to Damanhour prison. Her sister updated us on the situation, which is still alarming. Visitors have to walk for long distances inside the prison, carrying all the subsistence, which is usually huge because prisoners’ rely largely on this subsistence. Then, visitors and subsistence are searched, such that all food packages, and even fruits are opened/peeled and literally thrown on top of each other in one large pack.

As for Mahienour herself, she is in a very over crowded cell with 31 women, each of them gets a space of around 50 cm width to sleep in. They ended up dividing sleeping hours among them, so Mahienour manages to sleep for only two hours a day. Letters are allowed through the family after they are read by the officers.

Follow the solidarity campaign for 4 Egyptian activists facing trial by the end of 2017, including renowned award-winning human rights lawyer Mahienour El Massry, via the hashtag #30DecemberTrials

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الحرية لماهينور -Free Mahienour  Facebook)

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China: Ongoing arbitrary and incommunicado detention of Mr. Wang Quanzhang

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CHN 003 / 0917 / OBS 101

Arbitrary detention /

Torture / Judicial harassment


September 19, 2017

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a partnership of the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) and FIDH, requests your urgent intervention in the following situation in China.

Brief description of the situation:

The Observatory has been informed by reliable sources about the ongoing arbitrary and incommunicado detention of Mr. Wang Quanzhang, a human rights lawyer with Fengrui Law Firm in Beijing. Mr. Wang was detained in the context of the “709 crackdown”[1].

According to the information received, since Mr. Wang Quanzhang’s arrest by police in August 2015, Chinese authorities have repeatedly prevented his wife and his lawyers from having access to him.

After he was taken into custody on August 3, 2015, Mr. Wang was held under “residential surveillance at a designated location” (RSDL) for six months, until he was formally arrested on January 8, 2016 and transferred to Tianjin No. 2 Detention Center. His family assumes he is still detained at Tianjin No. 2 Detention Center but neither his wife nor his lawyer has been able to meet him since his transfer to Tianjin. On some occasions, Tianjin police claimed they did not know where Mr. Wang was.

On February 14, 2017, Mr. Wang was indicted on charges of “inciting subversion of State power” (Article 105 of the Chinese Criminal Law), punishable with prison terms ranging from 10 years to life imprisonment.

Moreover, it is strongly believed that Mr. Wang was subjected to various forms of ­torture, including electric shocks, while in custody. Since his arrest, his relatives have also been subjected to harassment. In particular, his wife, Ms. Li Wenzu, has been constantly monitored, and was arbitrarily detained on several occasions. Their son has also been forcibly removed from kindergarten by police order.

Mr. Wang has been practicing law since 2003, and has represented a wide array of clients in human rights cases, including Falun Gong practitioners, members of the New Citizens’ Movement, housing rights activist Ni Yulan, and journalist Qi Chonghuai. He also wrote or co-authored many articles on the legal profession and human rights, and led many human rights and legal training sessions for less experienced human rights defenders around China. He has faced constant harassment and suffered retaliation for his work.

The Observatory strongly condemns the arbitrary detention of Mr. Wang Quanzhang, and urges the Chinese authorities to immediately and unconditionally release him, ensure his right to access to his relatives and a lawyer of his own or his family’s choosing, and respect his rights including those stipulated in the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, the UN Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners and the UN Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers.







China/Turkey/Azerbaijan/Russia etc: Joint Civil Society Petition to the International Association of Prosecutors

September 5, 2017

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Dear members of the IAP Executive Committee and the Senate,

dear members of the IAP,

In the run-up to the annual conference and general meeting of the International Association of Prosecutors (IAP) in Beijing, China, the undersigned civil society organisations urge the IAP to live up to its vision and bolster its efforts to preserve the integrity of the profession.

Increasingly, in many regions of the world, in clear breach of professional integrity and fair trial standards, public prosecutors use their powers to suppress critical voices.

In China, over the last two years, dozens of prominent lawyers, labour rights advocates and activists have been targeted by the prosecution service[1]. Many remain behind bars, convicted or in prolonged detention for legal and peaceful activities protected by international human rights standards, including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Azerbaijan is in the midst of a major crackdown on civil rights defenders, bloggers and journalists, imposing hefty sentences on fabricated charges in trials that make a mockery of justice[2]. In Kazakhstan, Russia and Turkey many prosecutors play an active role in the repression of human rights defenders, and in committing, covering up or condoning other grave human rights abuses[3].

Patterns of abusive practices by prosecutors in these and other countries ought to be of grave concern to the professional associations they belong to, such as the IAP. Upholding the rule of law and human rights is a key aspect of the profession of a prosecutor, as is certified by the IAP’s Standards of Professional Responsibility and Statement of the Essential Duties and Rights of Prosecutors, that explicitly refer to the importance of observing and protecting the right to a fair trial and other human rights at all stages of work[4].








Turkey: OBS Calls Turkey To Release Jailed Human Rights Defenders Immediately, Unconditionally

August 12, 2017

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a joint programme between the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) and the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) has urged Turkey to release jailed human rights defenders in the country. The Observatory urges Turkish authorities to immediately and unconditionally release these people and put an end to all forms of harassment against them, read a statement released by the Observatory on Saturday.

Acting on an anonymous tip Turkish police raided a hotel on Büyükada, one of the Princes’ Islands off İstanbul on July 5,  2017, and detained İdil Eser from Amnesty International, İlknur Üstün from the Women’s Coalition, lawyer Günal Kurşun from the Human Rights Agenda Association, lawyer Nalan Erkem from the Citizens Assembly, Nejat Taştan from the Equal Rights Watch Association, Özlem Dalkıran from the Citizens’ Assembly, lawyer Şeyhmus Özbekli, Veli Acu from the Human Rights Agenda Association and two foreign trainers, Ali Garawi and Peter Steudtner.

After interrogation at the anti-terror branch of the İstanbul Police Department, on July 17, the 12th day of their detention, the 10 human rights defenders, who are accused of membership in a terrorist organization, were referred to the İstanbul Courthouse. Six of the activists were subsequently arrested, while the court decided to release four of them on judicial probation. On July 21 İstanbul’s Adalar Public Prosecutor’s Office issued detention warrants for the four human rights defenders, including Taştan and Özbekli, who were released by the court.




The Post Coup Purge Evolved to The Humanitarian Crisis


Turkey: Arbitrary detention and judicial harassment of Mr. Taner Kilic

June 16, 2017

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TUR 003 / 0617 / OBS 064

Arbitrary detention /

Judicial harassment


The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a partnership of FIDH and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), requests your urgent intervention in the following situation in Turkey.

Description of the situation:

The Observatory has been informed by reliable sources about the arbitrary detention and judicial harassment of Mr. Taner Kılıç, a founding member of Amnesty International Turkey, and Chair of its Board of Directors since 2014. Mr. Kılıç has also played a strong role in advocating for refugee rights as a lawyer, and among domestic non-governmental groups and others working on the issue.

According to the information received, on June 6, 2017, at 6:30 am, Mr. Taner Kılıç was detained at his place of residence by the Anti-Terror Branch of the Izmir police. The Turkish police searched both his home and office. 18 other lawyers were detained alongside with Mr. Taner Kılıç. The detention orders were issued referring to the ongoing investigation into individuals suspected to be members of the so-called “Fethullah Gülen Terrorist Organisation”, which the Turkish Government accuses of having instigated the failed coup d’état last year.

On June 9, 2017, the Turkish prosecution charged Mr. Taner Kılıç with “membership of a terrorist organisation”, namely the “Fethullah Gülen Terrorist Organisation”. At the court hearing, the prosecution pointed out as “evidence” of Mr. Taner Kılıç’s alleged link with the Gülen movement his alleged use of a secure mobile messaging application, called Bylock, that the authorities claim to have been used by members of the Gülen movement. Mr. Taner Kılıç denies ever having downloaded or used Bylock, and no concrete evidence was provided in court against Mr. Taner Kılıç.

As of publishing this Appeal, Mr. Taner Kılıç remains in pre-trial detention in Izmir.



Kenya: 2017 elections: Broken promises put human rights defenders at risk – Publication of an international fact-finding report

May 3, 2017

The abduction, torture and killing of renowned Kenyan human rights lawyer Willie Kimani in June 2016 shocked the entire world, provoking a wave of outrage at national and international level. This is only the tip of the iceberg of a widespread pattern of violence and harassment aimed at silencing dissenting voices and perpetuating impunity, declared the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders (OMCT-FIDH partnership) in the mission report it published today.

Kenya, a country that in 2010 voted a very progressive Constitution strengthening the country’s human rights framework in compliance with international standards, has in recent years chosen a different path. So far the freedoms enshrined in the constitutional Bill of Rights have not been fully incorporated into domestic legislation, and, most importantly, are not upheld or implemented in practice.

To date, the effective implementation of this progressive framework unfortunately remains a mirage and still needs substantial improvement”, declared OMCT Secretary General Gerald Staberock. “With all the right instruments put in place to bring about change, lack of implementation and political will appear to be the main reasons for such disillusionment”.