The Bar Human Rights Committee of England and Wales has expressed its grave concern over the arrest yesterday of prominent Egyptian lawyer and human rights defender Azza Soliman.

Ms. Soliman was arrested by Egyptian police at her home on the morning of 7 December, following an arrest warrant issued by the investigative judge in Egypt’s “foreign funding” case.

Ms. Soliman’s arrest follows sustained attempts by the Egyptian government to harass, intimidate and restrict the activities of lawyers, activists, and human rights defenders: she is one of 80 people currently subject to a ban on international travel; the government has also frozen assets related to her personal bank account and the accounts of her law office.

Both the travel ban and asset freeze were undertaken without prior notification, and without Ms. Soliman being informed of the charges against her, in violation of Egypt’s international law obligations and its own constitution; BHRC issued a statement of concern criticising these actions.

During her arrest, Ms. Soliman was not informed of the basis for the warrant, or given details of the charges against her. She has since been charged with “receiving foreign funding to harm state interest”, “establishment of an entity that conducts activities similar to that of associations’ activities” and tax evasion, and released on bail.

Kirsty Brimelow QC, Chairwoman of BHRC said:

“The arrest of Azza Soliman appears to be the latest in a long-running campaign by the Egyptian government to intimidate human rights defenders and restrict their work.

BHRC calls upon President Sisi to make sure that Egypt properly protects lawyers and human rights defenders, in accordance with its obligations under international law and the Egyptian constitution”

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