UPDATE- Investigations postponed for rights lawyer over anti-torture bill

Amira El-Fekki
3 Min Read
Lawyer Negad Al-Borai (Photo Public Domain)
  • Investigations into human rights lawyer Negad El-Borai were postponed to Tuesday by judge Abdulshafy Othman, who was tasked by the minister of defense to examine the case.

El-Borai, director of the United Group law firm (UG), was summoned for investigations earlier this week, sparking concerns about his possible detention, amid an ongoing wave of state crackdowns on civil society workers.

“I shall present myself for interrogation tomorrow at 3pm. My friends are afraid I may be detained. Honestly, this time I am not sure why the judge called me in, because in the last investigations I faced accusations already,” El-Borai told Daily News Egypt on Monday.

El-Borai has been previously investigated four times, according to a Tuesday press release issued by UG. His last interrogation session took place last March, lasting for over three hours.

According to UG, on that day El-Borai was officially accused of the following: founding an unlicensed group—in reference to the law firm—with the purpose of “incitement to resist authorities and practicing human rights activism”, in addition to illicitly receiving funds from a foreign organisation and publishing false news that jeopardises public safety.

The foreign organisation in question seems to be a US-based NGO called the National Center for State Courts, which describes itself as a database for legal services and information aimed at ”court improvement”.

The issue dates back to June 2015, El-Borai was investigated in light of their submitting a draft law to combat torture to the office of President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi in May of the same year.

“The only reaction we got from the authorities after submitting the draft was being referred to investigation,” Al-Borai previously said.

The project was the result of a workshop held by UG, attended by Egyptian judges Assem Abd Al-Gabbar and Hisham Raouf, who were also under investigation following a report filed against them by the Supreme Judicial Council for drafting the law.

El-Borai is very involved in human rights issues in Egypt, such as supporting NGOs against prosecution cases, defending freedom of expression such as in the case of detained writer Ahmed Naji, and previously writing a column in Al-Shorouk newspaper.

A number of NGOs and human rights organisations have voiced their criticism of the measures taken against Al-Borai and the judges.

In light of an internationally denounced case known as the ”NGOs’ foreign funding case”, NGOs abide by the regulations of the Ministry of Social Solidarity, which must approve the reception of foreign funds. Many NGO activities have been held and their managers investigated over debated charges of illicit operations.

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Journalist in DNE's politics section, focusing on human rights, laws and legislations, press freedom, among other local political issues.