International Rights groups demand end to 'arbitrary' travel bans

Thursday 03-11-2016 01:10 PM

Human Rights defender Malek Adly released from custody, Aug. 28, 2016. ASWATMASRIYA/ Mohamed al-Raai

CAIRO, Nov 3 (Aswat Masriya) - Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch called on Egypt to lift the "abusive and arbitrary" travel bans imposed on human rights defenders after prominent defender Malek Adly was stopped from boarding his flight on Monday.

Human rights lawyers and defender Adly was scheduled to travel to France when he was stopped and questioned at the airport before boarding his flight "without any reasons given", he said via Facebook.

Adly was released pending investigation late August after four months in detention for inciting protests. However, he affirmed that he was granted approval for travel.

Egyptian authorities have banned at least 12 other directors, founders and staff members of Egyptian non-governmental organisations (NGOs) from travelling abroad since former president Mohamed Mursi's ouster, according to Amnesty.

Among those banned from travel were  the director of the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI) Gamal Eid, the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR) founder Hossam Bahgat, feminist activist Mozn Hassan and lawyer Nasser Amin of the National Council for Human Rights (NCHR).

The travel bans come partly in connection with a foreign funding case that has been reopened by the Egyptian authorities in March.

The case dates back to 2011 and started with Egyptian authorities raiding several NGOs and launching an investigation into foreign funding allegedly received by those NGOs. It later on simply came to be known as the NGO trial, in which 43 Egyptians and foreigners were convicted in 2013.

Local and International rights organisations have criticized the reopening of the case.

"The Egyptian authorities should stop imposing travel bans to prevent human rights defenders from leaving the country and speaking out about Egypt’s appalling human rights record," Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch said in a statement published Monday.

The watchdogs documented three cases where the political and human rights activists have challenged the travel bans imposed on them and had their cases rejected in court.

Egypt was elected late October to be a member at the UN Human Rights Council, with 173 out of 193 votes.

Human rights conditions in Egypt have been largely scrutinised over the past few years with local and international rights groups reporting on increasing human rights violations, crackdowns and police abuses.

Meanwhile, Egypt has maintained that reports of violations are politicised and lack objectivity.

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