September 2017

The Egyptian Commission for Rights and Freedoms (ECRF) is alarmed at the Egyptian government’s attempt to intimidate ECRF by a surprise visit aiming at closing ECRF’s office in Cairo.

A committee from the Investment authority – accompanied by National Security and a police van – entered ECRF’s office claiming to hold a decision to close down the organization and attempted to put a wax seal on the office’s door on grounds that remain unknown.

Lawyers present at the office rejected these claims on the grounds of their lawlessness as ECRF is a law firm operating according to the national legislation. This was enough to prevent the closure of the office but the committee said they will come again. ECRF includes several law firms and therefore cannot be closed by the Investment Authority.

In October 2016, another committee from the Investment Authority had made a similar surprise visit and searched the office. It found law and international law books as well as casefiles of disappeared persons.

The Regeni family is deeply concerned for their lawyers and consultants in a Cairo. “One more time, it seems that the freedom and safety of those helping us in shading light on Giulio’s death is at risk” said Paula and Claudio Regeni and lawyer Alessandra Ballerini.

“This visit is yet another attempt to silence civil society in Egypt. The timing of the visit is not a coincidence as less than a month ago ECRF published its annual report on Enforced Disappearances in Egypt. The report documented 378 cases between August 2016 and August 2017, and labeled the Egyptian security apparatuses as the main actor to be held account for these violations. Additionally, on September 5, 2017, the Egyptian government blocked ECRF’s website”, said the Egyptian Commission for Rights and Freedoms.

This raid follows the arrest of lawyer Ibrahim Metwally, Coordinator of the Association of the Families of Victims of Enforced Disappearances in Egypt, an association that ECRF supports with legal advice.

It is also not coincidence to the fact that ECRF was soon to receive Giulio Regeni’s family members, to continue facilitating the investigation of Regeni’s enforced disappearance followed by death in 2016