Egypt: Disciplinary harassment of Judges Assem Abel Gabbar and Hesham Raouf within the anti-torture bill case
URGENT APPEAL - THE OBSERVATORY
EGY 002 / 0516 /
Threat of dismissal /
freedom of association
April 7, 2017
The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a
partnership of the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) and FIDH, has
received new information and requests your urgent intervention in the following
situation in Egypt.
The Observatory has been informed by reliable sources about the disciplinary harassment
of Judges Assem Abel Gabbar, former
Deputy Chief Justice of the Court of Cassation, and Hesham Raouf, who sits at Cairo’s Appeal Court and former
Justice Minister’s assistant, to the Disciplinary Council to consider their
dismissal for “engaging in political activities” during their
participation in the revision of the anti-torture bill.
According to the information received, on March 30, 2017, the Supreme
Judicial Council referred the two judges to the Disciplinary Council for their
removal from office on accusation of “engaging in
political activities”. Messrs. Assem Abel Gabbar and Hesham Raouf had collaborated with Mr Negad
El-Borai, human rights lawyer and
Director of the “United Group – Attorneys-at-law, Legal Advisors” (United
the drafting of an anti-torture bill. The first hearing is scheduled to take place on
April 24, 2017.
The Observatory recalls that Mr. El-Borai is facing criminal charges of
“establishing an unlicensed entity with the intent of inciting resistance wards
to the authorities”, “implementing human rights activities without license”,
“deliberately spreading false information with the purpose of harming public
order or public interest” and “receiving funds from the National Center for
State Courts (NCSC)” (see background information) in an investigation regarding
the same anti-torture activity.
The Observatory considers that the aforementioned investigation and
disciplinary harassment will further undermine human rights defenders’ efforts
to fight against torture in the country. Moreover, they clearly show the
unwillingness of Egyptian authorities to live up to their commitments
to bring the definition in the Penal Code of the crime of
torture in line with international standards.
Observatory urges the Egyptian authorities to immediately and unconditionally
put an end to the harassment against Judges Assem Abel Gabbar and Hesham Raouf, as
well as Negad El-Borai, by immediately dropping the ongoing proceedings
In March 2015, the Supreme Judicial Council
filed a complaint against Mr. Negad El-Borai for drafting an anti-torture bill,
organising a workshop to discuss it, and advocating before the Egyptian
authorities for its adoption.
On May 21, 2015, Mr. Negad El-Borai was
interrogated by an investigative judge in North Giza Court on the drafting of
the anti-torture bill.
On March 3, 2016, Mr. El-Borai was
interrogated for the fourth time by an investigative judge in relation to the
same case. Subsequently, he was arrested, then released from custody on his
guarantee of residence, and charged with “establishing an unlicensed entity
with the intent of inciting resistance wards to the authorities”, “implementing
human rights activities without a license”, “deliberately spreading false
information with the purpose of harming public order or public interest” and
“receiving funds from the National Center for State Courts (NCSC)”.
On April 6, 2016, United Group submitted its
proposal of anti-torture bill to the House of Representatives’ Speaker and
called for its adoption, after it had failed to get a response from Egyptian
authorities one year after its presentation to various State bodies. At the
moment of issuing this appeal, no answer has yet been received from any
Egyptian authorities, including the Egyptian Parliament.
On May 17, 2016, Mr. Negad El-Borai was
summoned for the fifth time before the investigative judge.
On June 5, 2016, Mr. El-Borai was again called
for an interrogation, during which the investigative judge confronted his
testimony with the statement made by the National Security Officer. The officer
stated that Mr. El-Borai had “received funds from foreign organisations to
bring down the State and attract youth to establish political movements in
order to turn public opinion against the State using methods of “non-violence”.
He added that Mr. El-Borai “gives statements to the media that turn public
opinion against the State inside and outside the country using the indirect
methods of the “minds revolution” that causes its fall”.
Moreover, Judge Hesham Raoufand Judge
Assem Abdel Gabar, were also targeted for participating in the drafting process
of the anti-torture bill. On November 12, 2016, Judge Abdulshafy Othman
summoned Judge Hesham Raouf for an interrogation on the anti-torture bill.
Furthermore, on January 26, 2017, the airport
authorities prevented Mr. Negad El-Borai from boarding his flight to Jordan at
Cairo International Airport, pursuant to a travel ban issued by an investigating
magistrate and the General Prosecutor within the framework of a criminal
investigation under case No. 173/2011, known as the “foreign funding case
Please write to the authorities of
Egypt asking them to:
Put an end to all forms of harassment - including at the disciplinary
and judicial level - against Judges Hesham Raouf and Assem Abdel Gabar, as well
as against Mr. Negad El-Borai, by dropping all proceedings against them, since
they only aim at sanctioning their legitimate human rights activities;
Immediately and unconditionally lift the travel ban against Mr. Negad
Comply with all the provisions of the United Nations Declaration on
Human Rights Defenders, in particular with its Articles 1, 5(b) and 12.2;
Ensure in all circumstances respect for human rights and fundamental
freedoms in accordance with international human rights standards and
international instruments ratified by Egypt.
President of the Arab Republic of Egypt, H.E. Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, Fax: +202
2391 1441, Email: email@example.com, Twitter: @AlsisiOfficial
Prime Minister, Mr. Sherif Ismail. Fax: + 202 2735 6449 / 27958016
Minister of the Interior, Mr. Magdi Abdel-Ghaffar, E-mail: Fax: +202 2579 2031
/ 2794 5529
Minister of Justice, Mr. Mohamed Hossam Abdel-Rahim, Fax: +202 2795 8103
Minister of Social Solidarity, Ghada Waly, Fax: +202 3337 5390
· Public Prosecutor,
Counsellor Nabeel Sadek, Fax: +202 2577 4716
· Mr. Mohamed Fayeq, President of the National
Council For Human Rights, Fax: + 202 25747497 / 25747670. Email:
· H.E. Ms. Wafaa Bassim, Ambassador, Permanent
Mission of Egypt to the United Nations in Geneva, Email:
firstname.lastname@example.org, Fax: +41 22 738 44 15
· Embassy of Egypt in
Brussels, Fax: +32 2 675.58.88; Email: email@example.com
Please also write to the diplomatic missions or
embassies of Egypt in your respective country.
The Observatory for the
Protection of Human Rights Defenders (the Observatory) was created in 1997
by FIDH and OMCT. The objective of this programme is to prevent or remedy
situations of repression against human rights defenders. FIDH and OMCT are
both members of ProtectDefenders.eu, the European Union
Human Rights Defenders Mechanism implemented by international civil
 The United Group
is an Egyptian law firm established 50 years ago, which also works on model
legislation to improve the respect of human rights standards.
 In March 2015,
during a UN Human Rights Council session, Egypt accepted to implement several
recommendations formulated during the Universal Periodic Review to strengthen
the fight against torture in the country.