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War of words between Germany and Egypt on human rights violations

Human rights lawyer Mohamed Al-Baqer, 5 February 2020 [Free Baker/Facebook]
Human rights lawyer Mohamed Al-Baqer, 5 February 2020 [Free Baker/Facebook]

The German Foreign Ministry and its Egyptian counterpart have exchanged sharp criticism in official statements over Egypt's decline in human rights.

The German Foreign Ministry said that it considers the verdict expected to be pronounced on 20 December against lawyer Mohamed El-Baqer as a sign of whether human rights have improved in Egypt.

Germany's Foreign Ministry added that it expects its Egyptian counterpart to carry out a fair trial and release El-Baqer and two other activists, Alaa Abdel-Fattah and Mohamed Ibrahim Radwan, stressing that lawyers should not be punished for practicing.

The German statement highlighted the importance of freedom of expression as the basis for social harmony, the participation of all sectors of society, and sustainable stability. It also commended the recent steps taken by the Egyptian government to improve human rights conditions, including the launch of the first Egyptian Human Rights Strategy in September. The German Foreign Ministry said it would follow up the implementation of the strategy with great interest.

Egypt's Ministry of Foreign Affairs responded that it categorically rejected interference in Egypt's internal affairs and reiterated its necessity to respect Egyptian law and its constitution.

Sisi's Prisons - Cartoon [Sabaaneh/MiddleEastMonitor]

Egypt Sisi's Prisons – Cartoon [Sabaaneh/MiddleEastMonitor]

"Assuming a specific outcome is totally and utterly rejected because this represents a waste of justice, the principles of the rule of law, and the separation of powers stipulated in the constitution," the Egyptian statement read.

In a press statement, the Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs considered the German statement "a blatant and unjustified interference in Egyptian internal affairs and involved unacceptable transgressions."

An earlier statement published by the news and media department of the Human Rights Council in Geneva urged Egypt to stop the misuse of counter-terrorism measures against civil society activists, lawyers, and journalists. The experts also called for the immediate release of Abdel-Fattah, El-Baqer and Radwan.

UN experts say that justification of egregious measures under the guise of implementing United Nations Security Council resolutions threatens the legitimacy of the international framework for counter-terrorism and the process of promoting, preserving, and defending human rights and fundamental freedoms in the long term.

The statement indicated that the Egyptian authorities have accused blogger Abdel-Fattah, lawyer and human rights defender El-Baqer and journalist Radwan of vague crimes such as 'spreading false news that is likely to threaten national security.' Under new orders, the three are still in jail, clearly exceeding pre-trial detention limits under the Egyptian Criminal Penal Code.

The Emergency State Security Misdemeanors Court postponed its proceedings in the case against the three on 8 November, and the verdict is expected on 20  December.

READ: Calls for Egypt to end arbitrary prosecution of researchers, academics 

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