Urgent Action: Frontline Defenders: Egypt: Human Rights Defender Ms Mona Seif Summoned To Appear Before The Public Prosecutor
On 31 May 2012, human rights defender Ms Mona Seif received a summons to appear before the Public Prosecutor in Cairo on Saturday, 2 June.
She was informed that she was a suspect in the arson attack on the headquarters building of presidential candidate and former Prime Minister Mr Ahmed Shafiq. The fire in the Dokki neighbourhood of Cairo, which did not do serious damage to the building, occurred on the evening of 29 May, as people gathered in Tahrir Square to protest the outcome of the first round of presidential elections.
While the summons was only notified to Mona Seif on 31 May, national media publicly reported on it the day before, 30 May. Mona Seif was elsewhere on the night of 29 May, at the time when Mr Shafiqâ's headquarters came under attack.
Mona Seif is one of five finalists for the 2012 Front Line Defenders Award for Human Rights Defenders at Risk for her courageous work in standing up for the rights of civilians in the face of military trials. A short video about the nomination of Mona Seif for the award can be viewed here.
Mona Seif is the founder of the No to Military Trials for Civilians movement, created in March 2011 following the mass arrests of protesters who had participated in the ousting of former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. The movement documented the detention of 12,000 civilians by the Egyptian military since power was assumed by the Supreme Council of Armed Forces (SCAF), and also helped bring to light the use of so-called â virginity tests by the security forces to target female protesters. Mona Seif herself was detained in December 2011 and faces continuous threats by military officers for her role in exposing the use of military trials against civilians.
Front Line Defenders is concerned that the summons of Mona Seif represents an effort by the Egyptian authorities to intimidate and end to the No to Military Trials for Civilians movement, and sends a signal to wider civil society and other human rights defenders in advance of the second round of presidential elections.
Front Line Defenders urges the authorities in Egypt to:
- Immediately stop the judicial harassment of Mona Seif, as Front Line Defenders believes that it is solely motivated by her human rights work, namely her exposure and documentation of abuses by the police and the military;
- Ensure that the threats by military officers against Mona Seif end, and that appropriate protection measures are taken to safeguard her physical and psychological integrity;
- Guarantee in all circumstances that human rights defenders in Egypt are able to carry out their legitimate human rights activities without fear of reprisals and free of all restrictions including judicial harassment.