Egypt: Decade-long prosecution of Case 173 must end if there is to be genuine progress on human rights tied to US military aid

The undersigned organizations call on the Egyptian authorities to immediately and completely dismiss Case no. 173 of 2011, the part targeting Egyptian human rights organizations. The undersigned urge the authorities to stop fabricating additional charges against human rights defenders and organizations.

With the case now ongoing for over a decade, the Egyptian authorities have admitted to fabricating accusations against several human rights organizations in the case. Three days ago, following this confession, the investigative judge in the case declared that there were no grounds to file a lawsuit against four human rights organizations, and decided to remove the names of the human rights defenders affiliated with these organizations from the lists for travel bans and asset seizures.

Yet despite this development, investigations are still underway for these same rights defenders and others, before a committee formed by the same investigative judge, to examine their tax files and that of their organizations. It was further decided to open criminal investigations against the same defenders, related to their right to free expression, with a potential charge of “spreading false news.” False accusations are oft-used by investigative authorities to unlawfully prosecute and detain thousands of Egyptians.

It is imperative that Case no. 173 of 2011 be completely closed, and all decisions resulting from it suspended. It is necessary for the Egyptian government to voice an appropriate apology to the Egyptian human rights defenders for the suffering they have incurred as a result of the decade-long  prosecution of this case; over which time the defendants have faced and continue to face false and malicious accusations, travel bans and asset freezes, and relentless media campaigns against them.

In this context, a serious investigation must be opened against all parties involved in falsifying accusations, which have been deployed as political vengeance against the human rights defenders for a decade. Vast material and human resources were harnessed from the state’s resources, and judicial, security, media, and diplomatic bodies were misused to serve and further this politicized retaliatory campaign founded upon false pretenses.

The undersigned organizations call for the immediate release of all human rights defenders detained on false charges and subjected to enforced disappearance and torture. Furthermore,  it is necessary to drop every prison sentence issued in absentia following politicized trials against Egyptian human rights defenders abroad. The Egyptian state should also release and drop charges against the thousands of innocent Egyptians trapped in prisons, who have been victimized by the state’s abusive and unjust policies and practices against those perceived as opposed to its authoritarian rule.

The government of Egypt should also stop treating Egyptian human rights defenders as collateral or as simply numbers on paper for negotiations with the US Biden administration on annual military aid, and should instead act to attain genuine human rights progress by entirely ending the prosecution of Case 173 of 2011 and dismissing politicized sentences against Egyptians in the country and abroad.

Signatory Organizations:

  1. Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies
  2. Egyptian Front for Human Rights
  3. Committee for Justice
  4. Sinai Foundation for Human Rights
  5. The freedom Initiative
  6. Egyptian Human Right Forum
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