11 May 2016
The International Association of Young Lawyers (AIJA) and Avocats Sans Frontières (ASF) are deeply concerned about the detention of human rights lawyer Malek Adly in Cairo, since his arrest last week. Both organisations call for the respect of the freedom of the legal profession in Egypt.
Mr. Adly is a prominent human rights lawyer and director of Lawyers Network at the Egyptian Centre for Economic and Social Rights (ECESR). He also co-founded the Front for Defending Egypt’s Protesters, a group comprising of 34 human rights organisations and several lawyers, which documents illegal practices carried out by state police forces against peaceful protesters.
An arrest warrant was issued against Mr Adly on 23 April 2016 in connection with a call to protest against President Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi’s decision to hand over two Red Sea islands administered by Egypt to Saudi Arabia and human rights abuses committed by the Egyptian security forces. Mr. Adly’s arrest follows a wave of arrests in Egypt reported to reach over 1,200 following protests against the President’s decision in connection with the islands.
Mr Adly’s defence team alleges that he was severely beaten by security personnel upon his arrest on 5 May 2016 and has filed claims to several authorities regarding violations against Mr Adly in respect of his arrest and investigation.
The human rights lawyer will be held in custody for 15 days, pending investigation into a list of allegations, including attempting to overthrow the ruling regime, affiliation to a banned organisation and broadcasting false news, all of which he denied during questioning.
AIJA and ASF call upon the Egyptian authorities to unconditionally respect the Egyptian Constitution and its international obligations, and to respect fundamental rights such as the freedom of expression and the right to freely exercise the profession of lawyer.
As an international NGO specialised on access to justice, ASF implements a regional program to promote and expand the scope of freedom of expression in the MENA region. The current crackdown on lawyers as Mr. Malek Adly, Mr. Ahmed Abdallah, the Head of the Board of the Egyptian Commission for Rights and Freedoms (ECRF) arrested on April 25th, and many other human rights defenders constitutes a serious threat to freedom of expression in Egypt.
Together with ASF, Mr. Adly contributed to AIJA’s 2015 annual conference in London by sharing the challenges of working as human rights lawyer in the context of national uprising and transition to democracy in Egypt. His keynote speech on the role of the lawyer in defending freedom of expression had been an eye-opener for many European young lawyers.