The Zeinhom Criminal Court’s decision today to freeze the personal and organizational bank accounts of a group of leading and award-winning human rights lawyers and campaigners over politically motivated accusations that they are using foreign funds for illegal purposes is a reprehensible blow to Egypt’s human rights movement, Amnesty International said today.
These individuals may subsequently face prosecution and prison terms of up to life, equivalent to 25 years in Egypt.
“The Egyptian authorities are using this case as a way to crush the country’s human rights movement. Meanwhile, the government’s brutal crackdown on dissent shows no sign of stopping, with enforced disappearances and torture becoming a matter of state policy. Egypt needs these critical voices more than ever,” said Philip Luther, Middle East and North Africa Director at Amnesty International.
“We are calling for this unjust ruling to be quashed with immediate effect, and for the Egyptian authorities to cease their harassment of these human rights defenders and members of their families. 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.”
In recent months, the Egyptian authorities have ramped-up restrictions on human rights activists and their organizations through travel bans, asset freezes and closure orders.