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Rights organisations call on Prosecutor General's Office to investigate intellectual property case

(ANHRI/CIHRS/IFEX) - 2 September 2010 - The Independent Human Rights Organizations Forum and the undersigned organizations said that the Prosecutor General has to start serious and impartial investigations into the complaint that a delegation of Egyptian human rights organizations will submit today. The complaint refers to the decision of the Alexandria East Prosecution to conclude the complaint of the executive director of the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI) against judge Abdel Fattah Mourad. The judge is accused of having violated ANHRI's intellectual property rights and reproduced tens of pages of ANHRI's report without mentioning the source.

The delegation will also request that the investigations be conducted at the Prosecutor General's office in Cairo and under his personal supervision as the Attorney General of Alexandria Prosecution did not respond to ANHRI's lawyers's request about the payment of fees in the civil prosecution case against Mourad. Moreover, the Attorney General did not refer the complaint to the liaison point, which is the technical office for intellectual property, in accordance with the law. Lastly, the Attorney General refused to reveal the reasons for shelving the case against the judge.

The forum expresses its concern that this unfair legal dispute between a judge and three human rights defenders is a prelude to dismissing human rights organizations and activists, especially after the key role they played in exposing the human rights violations recently committed by the Egyptian authorities, and taking into account the forthcoming general and presidential elections.

These worries grow more serious now that the Egyptian government is preparing a new act that would impose more restrictions on civil associations and rights organizations. As well, a media crackdown on rights organizations is being increasingly waged in state-owned newspapers, with some officials participating in this.

In addition, the Ministry of Social Solidarity pressures rights organizations by rejecting applications for activity and program funds. Its treatment of the Egyptian Organization for Human Rights (EOHR), New Woman Foundation and the Association for Human Rights Legal Assistance are prime examples. This withdrawal of funding resulted in the cancellation of some of the organizations' projects, and financial difficulties forced the Association for Human Rights Legal Assistance to recently give up its office space.

Mourad is persistent in pursuing activists and bloggers as they exposed his encroachment on ANHRI's intellectual property rights. However, the Egyptian judiciary acquitted the activists in two earlier cases filed by Mourad. The first case ended in the shutting down and/or blocking of 50 websites, including the site of the Hisham Mubarak Law Center and the ANHRI site. The second case was an insult and libel case against two bloggers and ANHRI's executive director.

A Khalifa court is currently considering the third fabricated case filed by Mourad, who has accused Ahmed Saif Al Islam, founder of Hisham Mubarak Law Center, Gamal Eid, ANHRI's executive director, and the blogger Amr Gharbeia of insult, libel and defamation. The hearing was scheduled for 4 September.

Meanwhile, the complaint filed by ANHRI against the judge was arbitrarily closed after a questionable investigation process and without any justification.

The Independent Human Rights Organizations Forum and the undersigned organizations declare their continued and utmost support for human rights defenders Ahmed Saif, Gamal Eid and Amr Gharbeia, and demand that the Prosecutor General assume its authority and begin a serious and transparent investigation into the crime of violating ANHRI's intellectual property.

Arabic Network for Human Rights Information
Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies

Non-IFEX signatories:

Hisham Mubarak Law Center
Andalus Institute for Tolerance and Anti-Violence
Association for Human Rights Legal Assistance
The Egyptian Center for Economic and Social Rights
El Nadim Center for Rehabilitation of Victims of Violence
Association for Freedom of Thought and Expression
New Woman Foundation
The Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights
The Egyptian Association for Community Participation Enhancement
Human Rights Association for the Assistance of Prisoners
Arab Organization for Penal Reform
Al Helaly Institute for Freedoms
The Arabic Institute for Civil Society and Human Rights Support
The Arabic Program for Human Rights Activists

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