The Zeinhom Criminal Court in Egypt has frozen assets of prominent human rights activists, lawyers and campaigners in the country. All of the mentioned below may face prosecution and serve up to 25 years in prison, on accusations that they used the foreign funding for illegal purposes within Egypt.
Hossam Bahgat – An investigative journalist and founder of the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR)
Gamal Eid – Founder of the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI)
Bahey el-Din Hassan – Founder and director of the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies (CIHRS)
Mostafa al-Hassan – Director of the Hisham Mubarak Law Center (HMLC)
Abdel Hafez Tayel – Director of the Egyptian Center for the Right to Education (ECRE)
The inquiry was initiated by a group of judges, who had been investigating the human rights groups for “pursuing acts harmful to national interests”, “destabilizing general peace” or “harming security and public order”, via foreign funds and transferring them to illegal entities. Director of the Middle East and North Africa Programme at Amnesty International, Philip Luther said, “This is a blatant misuse of the criminal justice system to prevent people speaking out about the rapidly deteriorating human rights situation in the country.” Moreover, deputy director for Middle East and North Africa at the Human Rights Watch, Lama Fakih also said that countries partnered with Egypt should not be fooled by the prompt justice system Egypt provides. “Egyptian authorities are single-mindedly pushing for the elimination of the country’s most prominent independent human rights defenders. Egypt’s international partners should not be fooled by repression cloaked in the guise of the legalistic procedure.”
While giving reference of the Article 22 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, HRW also asked Egypt to respect and defend all human rights activists by reforming their justice system, rather than putting them in prisons.