Geneva – Geneva Council for Rights and Liberties (GCRL) slams court ruling of 15 years in prison in absentia issued by an Egyptian court, on Tuesday, 08/25/2020, against prominent human rights defender, Bahey el-Din Hassan, on charges related to “insulting the judiciary” and “disseminating false news” spreading false news, insulting the judiciary, and inciting against the state.
GCRL has learned that the Fifth Terrorism Circuit Court in Cairo has sentenced the President of the Cairo Institute of Human Rights Studies, Bahey El-Din Hassan, to 15 years in prison in absentia.
Geneva Council believes that this shocking ruling is politically motivated and comes as part of a systematic prosecution to silence human rights defenders’ voices who expose the severe human rights violations committed in Egypt that have escalated over the past years.
The ruling is the latest in a longstanding pattern of harassment and persecution of human rights defender Bahey el-Din Hassan, as he was subjected to death threats in 2014 that forced him to leave Egypt. Authorities have also frozen his assets, added his name to arrivals watch lists, sentenced him to three years in absentia on 19 September 2019, and a fine of 20,000 Egyptian pounds for “insulting the judiciary”.
The new ruling issued on Tuesday came on a similar charge in two simultaneous cases which indicates a retaliatory motive to double the punishment for Hassan. Investigations in the case in which a new judgment was issued began in July 2018, in parallel with the continuing investigations for the previous case for which a verdict was issued in September 2019.
Geneva Council also said that the charges against the human rights activist, Bahey El-Din Hassan, are broad and with no legal basis in an attempt to silence him and other human rights defenders which has been a systematic policy for years.
The verdict is based on articles in the Egyptian Penal Code and the Law on Combating Electronic Crimes, which include many loopholes that could be used to settle political scores with rights activists in violation of the principles of a fair trial under the rules of human rights.
Accordingly, Geneva Council for Rights and Liberties calls on the Egyptian authorities to immediately reverse this unfair ruling, as well as the previous rulings, to ensure the rehabilitation of activist Hassan, and to provide guarantees to facilitate the work of human rights organizations and activists to monitor the situation of human rights as a key requirement of good governance.
GCRL also urges the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders, Michel Forrest, to provide the necessary international mechanisms to put pressure on Egypt to stop the prosecution of activist Bahey el-Din Hassan and all human rights defenders, enabling them to freely carry out their work.