Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders Annual Report 2003 - Egypt

Acquittal of Dr. Saad Eddin Ibrahim24

On 18th March 2003, The Supreme Course acquitted Dr. Saad Eddin Ibrahim, director of the Ibn Khaldun Center for Development Studies. This decision brought an end to the legal proceedings which started in November 2000, following his arrest and that of 27 of his employees in June 2000.

On 21st May 2001, Dr. Saad Eddin Ibrahim had been sentenced to seven years in prison based on decree n° 4 of 1992, adopted in the context of the law on the State of Emergency (1981) which bans the collection and receipt of foreign funds without prior approval of the authorities. He was also charged with "falsifying voting cards, disseminating false information abroad with a view to harming Egyptian interests and extortion of moneys". Following two adjournments of the case by the Supreme Court where it had quashed the seven year prison sentences handed down by the State Security Courts, on 3rd December 2002 the Supreme Court released Dr Saad Eddin Ibrahim pending a final decision being handed down.

Moreover, the Supreme Court decided to acquit Mr. Mohamed Hussein and Mrs. Nadia Mohamed Ahmed, two more employees of the Center who were still being pursued in the context of this case. Mrs. Magda Ibrahim El Beh, a third employee in the Center who was still being pursued, was given a six months' suspended prison sentence for "falsifying voting cards".

Legal Recognition of EOHR25

On 24th June 2003, the Egyptian Organisation for Human Rights (EOHR) received its official registration number from the Ministry of Social Affairs (registration n° 5220). It has thus become a legal organisation, after an 18 years wait following the request for legal recognition. The EOHR was first of all registered as a branch of the Arab Organisation for Human Rights in 1985 then submitted a request for registration in 1987 in compliance with law 32 of 1964. Following the refusal of this by the Ministry of Social Affairs, the EOHR lodged an appeal with the Administrative Court in 1992.

The legal proceedings lasted until 2000, by which time the EOHR renewed its request for registration in compliance with the new law on association and civil institutions (law 153/1999). A registration number was granted but shortly thereafter the Constitutional Court declared the new law unconstitutional and the EOHR had to submit yet another request on the basis of the former law of 1964. The authorities then postponed examination of the request following the refusal by the security services. After an appeal in the Administrative Court, that court ordered the Ministry of Social Affairs to register the EOHR in July 2001. The Minister initially refused to grant this authorisation, then subsequently accepted following a new request from the EOHR in compliance with the new law on NGOs, in 2002 (law 84/2002).26

Proceedings against Mr. Hafez Abu Sa'eda, Secretary General of EOHR, are still under as of end 2003. Mr. Abu Sa'eda is being pursued on the basis of decree n° 4 of 1992 for having in 1998 accepted an unauthorised subsidy from the British Embassy.

Refusal of legal recognition of two organisations27

In June 2003, requests for registration by two organisations, New Woman Research Center and the Land Center for Human Rights, submitted on the basis of the new law on NGOs (Law 84/2002) were rejected by the Egyptian authorities. Regarding the New Woman Research Center, the Ministry of Social Affairs, on the basis of a letter received from the Giza Department of Security, indicated that "the authorities responsible for security are not in agreement with the registration of this institution". The Land Center for Human Rights for its part has not received any response from the Ministry of Social Affairs by the end of the 60 day period foreseen by the law and it thus considered as being illegal.

Continued pressure on the ECHR28

The charges against Hany Ryadh Saker and Tahar Suleiman, members of the Egyptian Center for Housing Rights (ECHR) for "usurping a journalist's identity" and "inciting social riot and violence" are still outstanding.

Moreover, Manal el Tibe, Executive Director of ECHR, regularly receives telephone calls from the security services asking her to report to the police station.

Lastly, on 13th September 2003, the Ministry of Social Affairs informed the ECHR that their request of 14th May 2003 for registration was rejected. The organisation made an appeal against this decision. The Supreme Court is to hand down its verdict on 22nd February 2004.

[Refworld note: This report as posted on the FIDH website (www.fidh.org) was in pdf format with country chapters run together by region. Footnote numbers have been retained here, so do not necessarily begin at 1.]

24. See Press Release of 18th March 2003.

25. See Press Release of 27th June 2003.

26. See Annual Report 2002.

27. See Open Letter to the authorities, 11th June 2003.

28. See Annual Report 2002.


This is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.