Thirteen rights groups released a joint statement Wednesday condemning what they call “a highly alarming pattern of escalating abuses against lawyers”.
Their statement added that abuses against lawyers also “severely violate defendants’ rights to adequate defence”.
The statement, released in tandem with a study by the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR), said lawyers “report physical assault, verbal abuse, threats and intimidation at the hands of security personnel”.
Lawyers particularly at risk were those representing activists and detainees charged with political offenses.
“Political prisoners are often denied their right to privately meet with their lawyers who also find increasing difficulty in accessing the official documents relating to their cases,” the statement read. “In one instance, lawyers of political prisoners were even referred to criminal investigation for advocating their clients’ rights as shows from testimonies collected by EIPR.”
The 13 groups demand that lawyers should be able to defend their clients without risk of judicial pursuit, violence and intimidation. They cited Law 17/1983 and the Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers adopted by the Eighth United Nations Congress as part of their demands.
The groups also call on all competent authorities to ensure that court proceedings “take place in a climate conductive to the respect of the right to fair trial”. They added that this is a right that is “routinely violated by the restrictions faced by lawyers in obtaining relevant official documents and in meeting their clients privately”.
EIPR alone has documented many violations against lawyers in the last year, which has seen unprecedented numbers of arrests of both activists and protesters.
Among the signatories are the Association for Freedom of Thoughts and Expression, the Hisham Mubarak Law Center, and Nazra for Feminist Studies.