The Bar Human Rights Committee of England and Wales (BHRC) and EuroMed Rights express serious concern at the ongoing detention in Egypt of Aya Hegazy, and six other co-defendants from the Belady Foundation for Street Children, ahead of their next hearing on 23 March.
Ms Hegazy and her co-defendants (including Hegazy’s husband Mohammed Hassenein) have been imprisoned since May 2014, when Egyptian security forces raided the Belady Foundation’s premises, arresting staff and confiscating computer equipment. Following a series of unexplained court-ordered adjournments, Ms Hegazy and her co-defendants have now been held without trial for nearly two years.
At their hearing in November 2015, the defendants were held in cages for five hours. The judge did not did not enter the courtroom, address the defendants or permit any legal representations from their lawyers, before adjourning the case once again. In February 2016, the trial was adjourned for a fifth time, until 23 March 2016, citing an inability to switch on a confiscated laptop. Applications for conditional release made by Hegazy’s defence counsel have been refused several times.
Chair of the Bar Human Rights Committee, Kirsty Brimelow QC said:
“Aya Hegazy’s pre-trial detention has now lasted 22 months, a delay caused and contributed to by the court’s repeated and unexplained adjournments. These impinge upon Aya and her co-defendants’ fundamental right to liberty, as guaranteed by international law and pursuant to the Egyptian Constitution.
Egypt is obliged to promote respect for fair trial guarantees not only under the terms of its own Constitution, but also as a signatory to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and by virtue of Article 7 of the African Charter of Human and People’s Rights.
We urge the court to immediately order the conditional release on bail of Ms Hegazy and the other remaining defendants and proceed speedily towards a swift and robust evaluation of the prosecution evidence.”;