Egypt: Revoke Travel Bans against WHRDs!

Al Nadeem Center for the Rehabilitation of Victims of Violence and Torture stated that on 18/10/2017, one of its co-founders, Dr. Suzanne Fayyade, was prevented from travelling to Tunisia to participate in a conference on the rehabilitation of victims of torture. Authorities at Cairo International Airport told her that the travel ban was issues by an investigative judge, without providing any further details.

Dr. Suzanne Fayyad is a prominent WHRD and a co-founder of Al Nadeem. Preventing Dr.Fayyad from travelling doesn’t come off as surprising or unexpected, because WHRD Fayyad is still working with and supporting torture victims, along with documenting and monitoring human rights violation, despite the Egyptian’s authorities’ endless attempts to disrupt her work and Al Nadim’s efforts. The center was closed February 2017, one year after a dispute with the Health Ministry over the legality of its operations. At the time of the closure order, the ministry claimed that the center had shifted its focus from being purely a medical facility to taking on human rights issues and advocacy, in violation of the law.

The Egyptian authorities continue to systematically target women human rights defenders who are being subject to an unprecedented number of legal and judicial harassment. November 23, 2016, Dr. Aida Seif El-Dawla, one of the founders of El Nadeem Center for the Rehabilitation of Victims of Torture and Violence, was informed by airport officials about the travel ban imposed against her, without giving her any information, similar to the case of Dr. Suzanne Fayyad. In January 2017, the Egyptian authorities decided to rule with the freeze of assets belonging to WHRD Mozn Hassan, Founder and Executive Director of “Nazra for Feminist Studies”. In December 2016, Lawyer and WHRD Azza Soliman – the Founder and Head of Board of Trustees for the Center for Egyptian Women’s Legal Assistance (CEWLA) – and her law firm “Lawyers for Justice and Peace” (LJP) had also faced a similar rule resulting in the freezing of her personal assets and her law firm’s assets.

The Regional Coalition for Women Human Rights Defenders in the Middle East and North Africa condemns the Egyptian authorities’ constant attempts at disrupting the work of WHRDs through various means such as legal and judicial harassments, investigations, arbitrary summons and travel bans. Such acts only confirm that the Egyptian authorities believe that defending human rights is a crime, and aim at silencing critical voices in Egypt which lead to the closure of all spaces of Egyptian civil society as a whole. In addition, The Egyptian authorities disavow its obligation and commitment to the international and regional community, including the violation of international conventions, such as the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. The Egyptian government should stop all its attacks on WHRDs in Egypt and make Egypt a safe space for everyone.