”The court decision was expected and we were not surprised at all. I will continue my work in documenting state violations of human rights despite the order,” lawyer Gamal Eid told Daily News Egypt on Saturday.
The lawyer’s comments came following the North Cairo Criminal Court’s order to freeze his assets, along with another four members of non-governmental organisations (NGO), including renowned journalist Hossam Bahgat, the head of the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Bahey el-din Hassan, the director of Hisham Mubarak Law Center Mostafa Al-Hassan, and the director of the Egyptian Centre for the Right to Education Abdel Hafiz Tayel.
The order sparked anger among several political parties, human rights activists, and civil society members, who believed that it is another huge blow against civil society.
“The exclusion of my wife and daughter from the frozen assets order is unlawful which proves that the decision against us [NGO members] is political, especially given that we did not face any investigation session,” Eid said.
The lawyer concluded by saying that he will file a complaint against the decision after three months, in accordance to law, but until then he will continue his work in the human rights field.
The request to freeze the human rights advocates’ assets was submitted in January by the investigative judge against the 13 NGO members and five NGOs targeted in the reopening of the 2011 “NGOs foreign funding” case.
The court accepted the request only against five NGO members being implicated in the case.
Top of Form
The “NGOs’ foreign funding” case dates back to December 2011 when prosecutors, backed by the police, stormed the offices of 17 local and international NGOs. The NGOs were being investigated for allegedly receiving illegal foreign funding.
Throughout the past three years, twelve NGO members received travel bans, 13 faced trial over freezing their assets, five NGO heads were interrogated in connection with the case, and 17 human rights defenders were interrogated about their human rights work.
This year the case was reopened again by former justice minister Ahmed El-Zind, following a public statement against the human rights advocates.
Following the minister’s statement, several actions were taken against certain human right defenders, starting with officially summoning Tayel for investigation in late January.
In February, an investigative judge submitted a request to freeze the assets of certain NGO members, in addition to requests for travel bans, in connection with the case.
In the months that followed, Eid and Bahgat learned that they were among those who received travel bans.
Last week, the cabinet approved an NGO draft law at its weekly meeting. Information about the content of the draft law remains unknown. The draft has been referred to State Council for review, after which it will be sent to parliament for discussion and a vote.
NGOs have long been calling on the government to announce the contents of the law, in order to limit the restrictions to which they are subjected to by security forces.