Egypt: Bastawissi and El-Baroudi

In recent years, human rights defenders in Egypt have been the target of human rights violations for their work in protecting and promoting fundamental freedoms.

Human rights violations against judges in Egypt are not uncommon. Mahmoud Mekki and Hisham Bastawisi, Vice-Presidents of the Cour de Cassation, appeared before a disciplinary panel in Cairo on April 27, 2006 on account of their outspoken criticism of the irregularities that marred parliamentary elections in November and December 2005, and their pressing for an inquiry into alleged electoral fraud where a number of judges close to the government are said to have been complicit. The two judges, however, refused to attend their hearing in protest at the actions taken to prevent their supporters being present and the disciplinary panel postponed the case. Mahmoud Mekki was eventually cleared and Hisham Bastawisi reprimanded and denied his upcoming promotion.

It was alleged that the hearing was not have been impartial, given that some members of the disciplinary board had publicly condemned statements made by the two judges. There were also fears that the disciplinary action was linked to the two judges' strong vocal stance calling for more independence of the judiciary and condemning the lack of transparency by the authorities concerning the draft law.

Many judges demonstrating against the referral of Mahmoud Mekki and Hisham Bastawisi before the disciplinary board were confronted by heavy police security, obstructing their march from the Judges Association building to the High Court and sealing off the whole area.

On February 7, 2008, reports indicated that restrictions had been placed the freedom of movement of judges Hisham Bastawissi and Ashraf El-Baroudi. In March 2008, the Law Society sent letters of intervention to Egyptian authorities expressing its concerns over the restrictions.

Letter of Intervention