Egypt’s fearless feminist Mozn Hassan summoned to court – risking life sentence
Human Rights, 19/06/2018
Mozn Hassan has been summoned to appear in front of a judge on Wednesday, accused of receiving foreign funds in breach of a Hosni Mubarak-era Law. She is facing possible charges which could lead to life imprisonment. Hassan received the 2016 Right Livelihood Award, widely known as the ‘Alternative Nobel Prize’, for her relentless fight for women’s rights in Egypt.
“In a country with deeply rooted patriarchal values in its institutions and a systematic clampdown on independent feminists, it was only a matter of time before I would appear in front of the investigative judge. I have no regrets whatsoever, and firmly stand by my beliefs and actions”, says Mozn Hassan, Founder and Executive Director of Nazra for Feminist Studies and a Right Livelihood Award Laureate.
Mozn Hassan is under investigation in the infamous case n. 173, also known as the “NGO Foreign Funding Case”, which accuses 37 Egyptian NGOs, among them Nazra for Feminist Studies, of breaching a Hosni Mubarak-era Law on Associations and Community Foundations (Law 84 of 2002). Hassan is facing possible charges of receiving foreign funds with the intention of harming national security, which could lead to life imprisonment according to article 78 (a) of the Egyptian penal code. The investigative judge has now summoned Mozn Hassan for interrogation on Wednesday 20 June at the New Cairo Court in the Fifth Settlement District.
Hassan has been under investigation for more than two years, and a travel ban was imposed on her in May 2016. In January 2017, an Egyptian court approved a freeze on the assets of Hassan and those of her organisation Nazra for Feminist Studies, on the account of “inciting and calling for the irresponsible liberation of women”. That ultimately led to Nazra having to close its office in March this year.
“Mozn Hassan is one of Egypt’s leading woman rights defenders, building on a proud history of feminism in Egypt. The accusations against Hassan are only a reminder of the long fight ahead to ensure gender equality in Egypt. We call on the authorities to cease the persecution of Hassan and to provide an enabling environment for civil society to flourish, said Ole von Uexkull, Executive Director of the Right Livelihood Award Foundation.
Mozn Hassan and Nazra for Feminist Studies received the 2016 Right Livelihood Award “for asserting the equality and rights of women in circumstances where they are subject to ongoing violence, abuse and discrimination”.
For more information, and interviews with Mozn Hassan or representatives of the Right Livelihood Award Foundation, please contact:
Johannes Mosskin, Director of Communications
Phone +46-70 437 11 48 / Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Further details on the Mozn Hassan and Nazra for Feminist Studies, alongside high-resolution photographs and videos are available here.
About the Award
Established in 1980, the Right Livelihood Award honours and supports courageous people and organisations offering visionary and exemplary solutions to the root causes of global problems. In total, there are now 170 Laureates from 69 countries. In addition to presenting the annual award, the Right Livelihood Award Foundation also supports the work of its Laureates, particularly those whose lives may be in danger due to the nature of their activities.
Timeline of events
Egyptian feminist and human rights defender Mozn Hassan founds Nazra for Feminist Studies, documenting human rights violations and mentoring young women in politics and educating people in gender issues.
Nazra for Feminist studies coordinates the response to the alarming number of sexual assaults on women participating in public protests during and after the Egyptian revolution of 2011, ensuring that survivors received medical, psychological and legal support.
As a part of coalitions of women’s groups, Nazra successfully lobbied for the inclusion of women’s rights in Egypt’s 2014 Constitution and ensured the passage of amendments to the Egyptian Penal Code to include sexual harassment and expand the definition of sexual crimes.
Mozn Hassan is investigated under the infamous “NGO Foreign Funding Case” and is under travel ban since May 2016. These arbitrary measures have been condemned by three UN Special Rapporteurs on human rights. Michel Forst, UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders, urged Egypt to revoke the travel ban on Mozn Hassan and other leading members of Egypt’s civil society, ruling that this restriction was incompatible under international law.
Mozn Hassan and Nazra for Feminist Studies received the 2016 Right Livelihood Award in September the same year. Hassan was barred from attending the 37th Award presentation in Stockholm later the same year.
An Egyptian court approved a freeze on the assets of Mozn Hassan and seized those of Nazra in January 2017 after five UN experts having condemned the asset freeze and described it as reinforcing “a pattern of systematic repression of the Egyptian women’s rights movement, aiming to silence and intimidate those working tirelessly for justice, human rights and equality.” The Right Livelihood Award Foundation organised an Award Presentation in Cairo in March 2017 attended by leaders of Egyptian civil society, European and Egyptian parliamentarians, fellow Laureates, diplomats and other dignitaries.
A new law regulating nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) was issued by President Abdel-Fatah al-Sisi restricting the space and the sustainability of Egyptian civil societies even further. Under Law 70 of 2017 for Regulating the Work of Associations and Other Institutions Working in the Field of Civil Work, organisations are prohibited from conducting activities that are vaguely defined as harmful to “national security, public order, public morality, or public health”.
Nazra for Feminist Studies announced on Egypt’s Women’s Day 16 March that they close their office as a result of having seen their assets frozen by authorities. Volunteers have since then continued to keep the hotline supporting survivors of sexual violence open.
The investigative judge has now summoned Mozn Hassan for interrogation on Wednesday 20 June at the New Cairo Court in Fifth Settlement District.
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