Update: Trial Of Women Human Rights Defenders Postponed in Egypt

On 13 September 2014, the Police Institute near Tora postponed the trial of the seven women human rights defenders until 11 October 2014. The decision to postpone was taken after the court heard the prosecution’s evidence. The defense attorneys requested the postponement in order to allow a technical expert to examine and determine the veracity of the video footage evidence presented during the session.

The seven women human rights defenders arrested amongst others included Ms. Sanaa Seif, Ms. Yara Sallam, Ms. Hanan Mustafa Mohamed, Ms. Salwa Mihriz, Ms. Samar Ibrahim, Ms. Nahid Sherif (known as Nahid Bebo) and Ms. Fikreya Mohamed (known as Rania El-Sheikh). They were arrested on 21 June 2014 along with others for protesting peacefully against the Protest and Public Assembly Law.

Ms. Sanaa Seif and the other women human rights defenders are currently being held in Qanater women’s prison. On 28 August 2014, Ms. Sanaa Seif decided to begin an open hunger strike where she is taking water only, to protest against the Protest and Public Assembly Law, which has led to the continuation of her arbitrary arrest and others. The decision to begin a hunger strike came amidst the passing away of her father, human rights defender Mr. Ahmed Seif El-Islam, and continued imprisonment of her brother, human rights defender Mr. Alaa Abd El-Fattah, who also began an open hunger strike on 18 August 2014.

Nazra for Feminist Studies expresses its concern at the postponement of the trial and extension of pre-trial detention for a period exceeding three months. Nazra for Feminist Studies urges the Egyptian authorities to immediately and unconditionally release the aforementioned women human rights defenders and drop all charges directed at them stemming from the legitimate exercise of the rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly. It also urges the Egyptian authorities to take all measures to guarantee the physical and psychological integrity and security of all seven women human rights defenders.

For further information on this case, please refer to Nazra for Feminist Studies’ urgent appeals and updates dated 22 June 2014, 26 June 2014, 29 June 2014 and 12 July 2014.