The Bar Human Rights Committee of England and Wales have issued a statement today expressing serious concerns over the arrest and arbitrary detention of several Egyptian lawyers, human rights defenders and journalists, as Egyptian security forces continue to silence criticism of the state.

BHRC have specifically criticised the sentencing of 152 people on 14 May to between 2 and 5 years in prison, for protesting against Egypt’s decision to cede control of two Red Sea islands to Saudi Arabia.

Malek Adly, one of a number of lawyers who filed a lawsuit against Egypt’s agreement with Saudi Arabia and who has called for protests against alleged human rights abuses by Egyptian security forces, was arrested on 5 May. His legal representatives claim that he has since been subject to violent beatings and ill treatment in detention.

This follows the arrest of journalists Amr Badr and Mahmoud Al-Saqa after they wrote about political demonstrations, and organised a sit-in protest against security forces raiding their homes. Both men now face charges of inciting protest against the regime, distributing flyers to protest, affiliation to a banned organisation, and promoting false news.

BHRC’s statement underlines Egypt’s obligations under Article 19 of International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which protects freedom of expression, and Articles 6, 7, 9, 11 of the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights, which prohibit the prosecution of peaceful protesters who are expressing their right to freedom of expression and assembly.

Chair of the Bar Human Rights Committee Kirsty Brimelow QC said:

“Egypt is meeting criticism and peaceful protest with arrest and imprisonment. BHRC calls upon Egypt to comply with international law and allow freedom of expression as well as demonstrate respect for the protections for lawyers and journalists working in Egypt.

If Egypt is to retain any respect for its justice system at an international level, a reverse of the recent crack-down against lawyers, journalists and civilians exercising their rights is required.”

Read the full BHRC statement here

Image credit: Alisdare Hickson via flickr