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country ishr defender

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  • Middle East and North Africa

date ishr defender

Last updated: 2 Jul

Human rights defender's story: Ramy Kamel Saied Salib

Story behind

Ramy Kamel Saied Salib is a member of Egypt's Coptic religious minority, and one of the founders and a prominent member of the Maspero Youth Union, a non-governmental organisation that advocates for the rights of Egypt's Copts and documents abuses against them.

In Egypt, the work of NGOs and human rights defenders is tightly restricted by a law passed in 2019, which comes as a continuation of an already widely criticised law passed in 2017.

Though the 2019 law has swapped planned prison sentences for breaches with hefty fines, it maintains draconian restrictions on NGOs. This law requires that organisations abide by vaguely worded and sweeping concerns of "national security" and "public morality" in order to gain legal recognition in a state registry.

It also limits the activities of registered organisations to serving what authorities call "the State’s development plans and the needs of the society", requiring all registered entities to seek yearly approval for their work and strictly limiting their access to foreign funding.

Both iterations of the law on NGOs have severely curtailed the ability of Egyptian NGOs to engage with the UN, which is considered a reprisal for some organisations’ previous engagement in the country’s Universal Public Review in 2014.

What happened

In December 2019, Special Procedures mandate holders expressed their concerns over the arbitrary arrest, detention and torture of Ramy Kamel Saied Salib, a member of Egypt's Coptic religious minority, is one of the founders and a prominent member of the Maspero Youth Union, a non-governmental organisation that advocates for the rights of Egypt's Copts and documents abuses against them.

Salib was arrested on 23 November 2019 and disappeared for 24 hours before being presented before the Supreme State Security Prosecution (SSSP) the next day. His arrest came days before he was scheduled to take part in the twelfth session of the United Nations Forum on Minority Issues, which was scheduled for 28 and 29 November 2019.

He was accused of joining a terrorist group, funding a terrorist group with the intention of carrying out destructive acts spreading false news, negatively using social media outlets and spreading rumours and false news to disturb public order. He was also held in pre-trial detention, a status that has been repeatedly renewed since his arrest.

Held at the Tora prison complex in Cairo, he has reportedly undergone spells of solitary confinement and has been denied access to his medication for asthma.

On 17 January 2021, the Criminal Court of Cairo renewed his detention for an additional 45 days, during which his health deteriorated. In January 2022, he was released conditionally, which means that his case remains open.

What do we want

ISHR calls on the government of Egypt to take specific actions to resolve this case, to publicly commit to protecting human rights defenders and condemn any intimidation or reprisals against them.

What do we want

ISHR calls on the government of Egypt to take specific actions to resolve this case, to publicly commit to protecting human rights defenders and condemn any intimidation or reprisals against them.

How you can take action

Look through our 2021 campaign to learn more about ISHR's work to #EndReprisals against human rights defenders and how you can help us ensure they are able to work safely and effectively wherever they are, including unhindered engagement with the UN and other major international human rights bodies.