Programs: Science and Policy
AAAS Scientific Responsibility, Human Rights and Law Program
AAAS Human Rights Action Network
|Date:||8 February 2002|
|Victim:||Saad Eddin Ibrahim|
|Subject:||Court Will Hear Dr. Ibrahim's Appeal|
|Issues:||Academic and scientific freedom; Freedom of opinion and expression|
|Type of alert:||Update|
|Related alerts:||10 July 2000; 11 August 2000; 21 November 2000; 26 February 2001; 22 May 2001; 20 June 2002; 2 August 2002; 3 December 2002; 18 March 2003|
FACTS OF THE CASE:
On 6 February 2002, the Egyptian Court of Cassation overturned Dr. Saad Eddin Ibrahim's conviction and granted his appeal for a new trial. Dr. Ibrahim is a sociology professor at the American University in Cairo and founder and director of the Ibn Khaldun Center for Development Studies. Last May, he was sentenced to a seven-year prison term for accepting funds from the European Union without official permission, deliberately disseminating false information and malicious rumors about the internal affairs of the State, and harming the image of the State abroad. By all accounts, the charges were politically motivated and related to the activities of the Ibn Khaldun Center, a civil and human rights organization in Cairo. The Center has issued several reports and documentaries critical of Egyptian government policies, including a documentary on voter fraud.
The Court of Cassation is the highest appeals court in Egypt. Its decision found six different aspects of the original court's decision to be flawed and therefore inadmissible in the next trial, the date of which has not yet been set.
Dr. Ibrahim, who was released from detention in Tora Mazraa Prison in south Cairo on 7 February pending the retrial, suffers from a degenerative neurological disorder. While in detention, he also suffered a series of strokes. His wife reports that both she and Dr. Ibrahim are optimistic about the court's decision.
Dr. Ibrahim holds both U.S. and Egyptian citizenship. His wife, Barbara, is an American academic working in Egypt. U.S. Consular officials have closely followed the trial. The U.S. Ambassador to Egypt David Welch issued a statement welcoming the decision by the court to overturn the original conviction. He also stated that the Embassy has "repeatedly expressed our concern about the fairness of the process with the Egyptian government, and hope that the case against Dr. Ibrahim will now be dropped."
Suppressing legitimate political debate is in direct violation of several international treaties, including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which Egypt ratified on 4 August 1967.
This action is also contrary to Article 6 of the Declaration on the Right and Responsibility of Individuals, Groups and Organs of Society to Promote and Protect Universally Recognized Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (the Defenders Declaration) adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations on 8 March 1998. Although not legal binding, the Defenders Declaration directly affirms the international standard of protecting the rights of human rights defenders, like Dr. Ibrahim.
(Sources of information for this case include: Digital Freedom Network, the Network for Education and Academic Rights (http://www.nearinternational.org), the Ibn Khaldun Center for Development Studies (http://www.ibnkhaldun.org/), U.S. Embassy in Cairo, and the New York Times.)
RELEVANT HUMAN RIGHTS STANDARDS
International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights
- Article 14(1): All persons shall be equal before the courts and tribunals. In the determination of any criminal charge against him [or her], or of his [or her] rights and obligations in a suit at law, everyone shall be entitled to a fair and public hearing by a competent, independent and impartial tribunal established by law.
- Article 19(1): Everyone shall have the right to hold opinions without interference.
The Human Rights Defenders Declaration
- Article 6(a): Everyone has the right, individually and in association with others: To know, seek, obtain, receive and hold information about all human rights and fundamental freedoms, including having access to information as to how those rights and freedoms are given effect in domestic legislative, judicial or administrative systems.
- Article 6(b): Everyone has the right, individually and in association with others: As provided for in human rights and other applicable international instruments, freely to publish, impart or disseminate to others views, information and knowledge on all human rights and fundamental freedoms;
- Article 6(c): Everyone has the right, individually and in association with others: To study, discuss, form and hold opinions on the observance, both in law and in practice, of all human rights and fundamental freedoms and, through these and other appropriate means, to draw public attention to those matters.
Please send faxes, letters, or emails:
- Welcoming the Court of Cassation's decision to overturn the conviction of Dr. Saad Eddin Ibrahim; and
- Requesting that all charges against Dr. Ibrahim be dropped, as it appears that he is being charged solely for exercising his right to freedom of expression.
APPEAL AND INQUIRY MESSAGES SHOULD BE SENT TO:
His Excellency Mohammed Hosni Mubarak
President of the Arab Republic of Egypt
Fax: 011 20 2 390 1998
Salutation: Your Excellency
The Honorable Farouk Seif El Nasr
Minister of Justice
Ministry of Justice
Fax: 011 20 2 355 8103
Salutation: Dear Mr. Minister
COPIES SENT TO:
Ambassador Nabil Fahmy
Ambassador of the Arab Republic of Egypt
The Embassy of the Arab Republic of Egypt
3521 International Ct. NW
Fax: (202) 244 5131
Salutation: Dear Mr. Ambassador
The Honorable David Welch
The Ambassador of the United States of America
Embassy of the United States
5 Latin America Street
Fax: 011 20 2 797 3200
Salutation: Dear Mr. Ambassador
Please send copies of your appeals, and any responses you may receive, or direct any questions you may have to Victoria Baxter, AAAS Science and Human Rights Program, 1200 New York Ave, NW, Washington, DC 20005; tel. 202-326-6797; email email@example.com; or fax 202-289-4950.
The keys to effective appeals are to be courteous and respectful, accurate and precise, impartial in approach, and as specific as possible regarding the alleged violation and the international human rights standards and instruments that apply to the situation. Reference to your scientific organization and professional affiliation is always helpful.
To ensure that appeals are current and credible, please do not continue to write appeals on this case after 90 days from the date of the posting unless an update has been issued.