The Center for Human Rights and Global Justice (CHRGJ) at NYU School of Law was deeply distressed to learn that on Saturday, the Cairo Felony Court ordered the freezing of assets of three respected Egyptian human rights organizations and five prominent human rights defenders, including Hossam Bahgat. Mr. Bahgat is the pioneering advocate, journalist, and founder of the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR) who in 2011 gave the distinguished Emilio Mignone Lecture on Transitional Justice at NYU School of Law. CHRGJ denounced the court order as an act of judicial harassment of human rights defenders and a violation of their rights to free expression and association.
Other targets of the court order were Gamal Eid, director and founder of the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information; the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies and its founder and director, Bahey eldin Hassan; the Hisham Mubarak Law Center and its director, lawyer Mustafa al-Hassan; and the Egyptian Center for the Right to Education and its director, Abd al-Hafiz Tayel.
The asset freezing order is only the latest in a series of actions taken by Egyptian authorities to target human rights defenders and others who take a critical stance towards the government. These actions have included an office raid, travel bans, interrogations probing into human rights activities, and criminal charges. Last November, CHRGJ denounced the charging and detention of Mr. Bahgat apparently in retaliation for an investigative article he wrote concerning the military.
CHRGJ stands with human rights defenders in Egypt and recalls the words of Mr. Eid as he awaited the court’s decision on Saturday:
If the judiciary allows the state to use it for the closure of independent human rights organizations today, it will have removed the last remaining limb of independent civil society in Egypt.