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The Bar Human Rights Committee of England and Wales has expressed its concern over the decision of the Egyptian courts to freeze the assets of human rights defenders.

On Saturday 17th September, the Zeinhom Criminal Court took the decision to freeze the personal and organisational bank accounts of leading human rights defenders, including Hossam Bahgat (see here for a previous BHRC statement on his treatment by the authorities) as well as leading human rights NGOs, including the Cairo Institute of Human Rights Studies, the Egyptian Center for the Right to Education  and the Hisham Mubarak Law Center.

BHRC expresses its serious concern over this decision as it appears designed to stifle the human rights movement in Egypt and has crippling consequences for civil society.

BHRC Chairwoman Kirsty Brimelow QC said:

“Set alongside the intimidation and harassment of lawyers and the travel bans or closure orders against leading human rights activists and their organisations, this new ruling  represents a very significant incursion against those who are speaking up to protect the rule of law in Egypt, or documenting State violations and abuses.

BHRC calls for this asset freeze to be lifted with immediate effect and for the ongoing restrictions on civil society to be eased in line with Egypt’s international legal obligations”

(Image credit: U.S.-Islamic World Forum via flickr)