Director of Cairo Institute for Human Rights receives death threats

Human rights organizations call on Europe and United States to urge Egypt to protect activists and investigate threats

Bahey el-Din Hassan was threatened with death on a television program (Photo: Reproduction) Bahey el-Din Hassan was threatened with death on a television program (Photo: Reproduction)

The human rights defender and director of the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies, Bahey el-Din Hassan, has been the target of death threats. On March 21, an Egyptian television presenter suggested that the local authorities ought to “deal” with Hassan the same way the Russian spy was dealt with, in reference to the poisoning of the agent Sergei Skripal in the United Kingdom earlier this year.

The threat was made after seven Egyptian human rights organizations, including the Cairo Institute for Human Rights, submitted a document to the UN Secretary-General on the presidential elections in Egypt. “These threats urgently need to be investigated and Hassan’s physical integrity needs to be safeguarded. He is a world-renowned human rights defender who plays a very important role in his country, where activists routinely suffer numerous violations. We, at Conectas, stand in solidarity and unite with other organizations to warn of the situation facing CIHRS,” said Camila Asano, program director at Conectas.

Given the severity of the situation, more than 20 organizations from around the world signed a statement expressing their outrage and calling on the United States and European countries to urge the Egyptian government to conduct an immediate investigation of the threats and to take all necessary measures to protect Egyptian human rights defenders both at home and abroad.

According to the organizations, “these events not only constitute the latest example of the harassment that Hassan has faced in recent years, but they also represent an extremely worrying pattern of reprisals against human rights defenders in Egypt and in many other parts of the world”.

Violations in Egypt

Egypt is the stage of other assaults on civil society, such as the detention of pro-democracy activists for expressing their views on social networks and a draconian new NGOs law that looks set to be approved soon. Amidst these violations, the Egyptian government has done nothing to guarantee the safety of human rights defenders, and it has instead sought to intimidate them both in Egypt and abroad.

The organizations pointed out that the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies is an indispensable organization that is internationally recognized for its work across the Middle East and North Africa for over 20 years. Nevertheless, CIHRS has been the target of attacks, such as when Bahey el-Din Hassan himself was forced him into exile in 2014 following the election of President el-Sisi.

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