April 26, 2023
Ongoing attacks against imprisoned human rights lawyer Mohamed El-Baqer in Egypt
The Steering Group of the International Fair Trial Day urges the end of attacks targeting El-Baqer and his immediate release.
The Steering Group of the International Fair Trial Day is gravely concerned about the reports that Mohamed El-Baqer, a prominent Egyptian human rights lawyer who has been imprisoned since September 29, 2019, has been subjected to ill-treatment and arbitrarily placed in solitary confinement as punishment for intervening to help his elderly cellmate. According to these reports, on April 10, 2023, El-Baqer, together with other fellow inmates, sought to defend an elderly prisoner who had been assaulted by prison guards. Prison guards allegedly beat El-Baqer and gagged him. El-Baqer is said to have sustained injuries to his mouth and bruises to his ribs and his wrist as a result. Prison guards then allegedly transferred El-Baqer to a disciplinary cell without proper clothing and left him to sleep on the ground without a blanket or cover until April 13. The cell had no window, ventilation, or electricity. El-Baqer was allegedly left without food for at least 24 hours and on the subsequent day, was only given a piece of bread and cheese. Further, the prison authorities denied him any recreational time.
His wife, Neama Hisham, was arrested by the police in her home on April 17, 2023. She was held in police custody for more than 10 hours before being released. On the previous day, she had shared concerns about El-Baqer’s mistreatment in prison with the public.
Mohamed El-Baqer received the 2022 Ebru Timtik Award –together with then imprisoned prominent labor rights lawyer Haitham Mohammadein– to honor their work and dedication to the defence of human rights in the challenging environment in Egypt, having faced persecution because of their work. Mohamed El-Baqer, founder and leader of the Adalah Center for Rights and Freedoms, has a long and renowned history of defending individuals whose rights have been violated. He further has been providing pro bono legal support, including to those detained for exercising their rights to assembly and expression, civilians tried before military courts, and members of marginalized communities, among them religious and ethnic minorities.
On December 20, 2021, the State Security Court of Egypt sentenced him to four years in prison. He was convicted on unsubstantiated charges of “joining a terrorist group,” “funding a terrorist group,” “disseminating false news undermining national security,” and “using social media to commit a publishing offense” (Case No. 1228/2021). During his detention, trial, sentencing and time in prison, El-Baqer has faced numerous serious human rights violations. He has been held in the notorious Badr 1 prison since October 2022 despite the persistent calls for his immediate release.
The International Fair Trial Day Steering Group strongly condemns the alleged brutality of the prison guards against our colleague Mohamed El-Baqer, his ongoing unjust imprisonment, and the arbitrary arrest of his wife, Neama Hisham. We call on the authorities in Egypt to: