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Public Statement-Egypt: Haytham Mohamadeen (September 2018)

September 27, 2018

Toronto, ON — The Law Society of Ontario expresses grave concern over the detention of lawyer Haytham Mohamadeen. When serious issues of apparent injustice to lawyers and the judiciary come to our attention, we speak out.
 
Haytham Mohamadeen is a human rights and labour lawyer in Egypt. He provides pro-bono legal aid to workers who have been persecuted for demanding better work conditions, and he is also a member of the El-Nadeem Centre for the Rehabilitation of Victims of Violence, an Egyptian NGO dedicated to fighting against torture and providing medical and legal aid to victims of human rights violations.
 
According to reports, on May 12, 2018, protests occurred over the rise of public transit fares. Despite reports that Haytham Mohamadeen did not attend or participate in the protests, he was arrested at his home on May 15, 2018, by members of the police and National Security Agency. Haytham Mohamadeen was charged with “aiding a terrorist organization” and “calling for illegal protests” under State Security Case no. 718/2018, as were twenty other individuals who have been accused of protesting. Haytham Mohamadeen was detained in an undisclosed location until May 19, 2018, when he appeared before the Supreme State Security Prosecution. At this appearance, the prosecutor ordered Haytham Mohamadeen’s detention for 15 days pending an investigation of his charges.
 
Based on available information, we understand that Haytham Mohamadeen remains in detention at an undisclosed location.
 
The Law Society of Ontario is deeply troubled by Haytham Mohamadeen’s detention and urges the Government of Egypt to comply with its obligations under international human rights laws, including the United Nations’ Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers.
 
Article 16 of the Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers states:
 
Governments shall ensure that lawyers (a) are able to perform all of their professional functions without intimidation, hindrance, harassment or improper interference; (b) are able to travel and to consult with their clients freely both within their own country and abroad; and (c) shall not suffer, or be threatened with, prosecution or administrative, economics or other sanctions for any action taken in accordance with recognized professional duties, standards and ethics.
 
Article 17 states:
 
Where the security of lawyers is threatened as a result of discharging their functions, they shall be adequately safeguarded by the authorities.
 
Furthermore, Article 23 provides:
 
Lawyers like other citizens are entitled to freedom of expression, belief, association and assembly. In particular, they shall have the right to take part in public discussion of matters concerning the law, the administration of justice and the promotion and protection of human rights and to join or form local, national or international organizations and attend their meetings, without suffering professional restrictions by reason of their lawful action or their membership in a lawful organization.
 
The Law Society urges the Government of Egypt to:

  1. immediately and unconditionally release Haytham Mohamadeen;

  2. pending his release, immediately disclose the whereabouts of Haytham Mohamadeen, and ensure that he is detained in an official place of detention, is not subjected to torture or other ill-treatment, has regular, unrestricted access to his family, lawyers of his choice, and medical care on request or as necessary;

  3. pending his release, ensure that during his detention, Haytham Mohamadeen is treated in accordance with applicable international standards;

  4. ensure that all lawyers and judges in Egypt are adequately safeguarded by the authorities such that they are able to carry out their professional duties and activities free from intimidation, hindrance, harassment, improper interference, the threat of criminalization or other human rights violations; and

  5. ensure in all circumstances respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in accordance with international human rights standards and international instruments.