UN human rights experts Friday condemned the arrest of three high ranking human rights activists from the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR). The individuals arrested are Gasser Abdel Razek ( Executive Director ), Karim Ennarah (Director of criminal justice), and Mohammad Basheer (Administrative Manager).
Egyptisan authorities justified the arrests by allegations of terrorism-related charges, including publishing false news, and public security concerns. As it followed the activists’ meeting with 13 foreign diplomats, however, their detention itself has been interpreted as an act of political; retaliation. This is not the only case this year where Egyptian authorities have wrongfully detained human rights workers. Patrick George Zaki, an EIPR gender rights researcher, was also recently arrested on charges stemming from terrorism and incitement. At present, all four men are detained in the Tora prison complex in Cairo.
The detentions add to the grave concerns expressed by UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Ravina Shamdasani, on due process and fair trials in the country. In addition to the recent detentions, she also cited concerns over the execution of fifty people in Eygpt during the last month. UN experts have also expressed concerns over Egypt’s use of counter-terrorism legislation to target civilians and social groups.