Egypt, victim of sexual harassment, denounced the immobility of Cairo: activist sentenced to one year in prison. But she fled to Switzerland

In Egypt, if you are a political opponent, often the choice is between ending up in prison or fleeing into exile. He is a witness Amal Fathy, Egyptian activist, wife of Mohamed Lotfy, leader of the Egyptian Commission for Rights and Freedoms (Ecrf, the organization that has been following the case of Giulio Regeni), sentenced to one year in prison after the sentence issued yesterday by the Court of Cassation in Cairo. Amal, 37, however, will not end up in jail because in the meantime, after being released in probation after the arrest in 2018 and since there is no travel ban, she moved to Swiss. A choice not by chance, but dictated by the fact that her husband and also the 6-year-old son have the double citizenship Egyptian and Swiss, soon also acquired by women.

“Amal will not return to Egypt in light of the Cassation sentence, this is clear – he tells Mohamed Lotfy – Formally he will not end up in prison, but his prison will be even harder, that is to live in exile for the rest of his life. It was hard for her and for me to accept this sentence, she is very angry and sad, she feels betrayed by justice. It is unfair that the victim of sexual harassment she must end up in prison herself, guilty only of having spread her pain as a victim of violence. It will be hard for me to stay away from them too, but I will try to travel more often between Cairo and Geneva ”.

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Amal Fathy was arrested and inserted in one of the many ‘numbered’ cases provided for by the Egyptian justice, the 7991 of 2017, for dissemination of false news, attempt to overthrow the regime, possession of indecent material and use of offensive expressions. The facts date back to that year, even if the arrest was in 2018, and concern the publication of one of his video sui social network, deemed ‘indecent’ by the judicial authorities in Cairo. In that video, about ten minutes long, the Egyptian activist for women’s rights who had participated in the Tahrir square uprising in January 2011 he denounced the sexual harassment suffered repeatedly and criticized the government for the failure to combat gender-based violence.

Amal Fathy was sentenced in first instance to two years in prison, then confirmed on appeal on December 30, 2018. In addition to the prison sentence, she also received a fine of 10 thousand Egyptian pounds (just over 500 euros) then doubled after the rejection of his appeal. Also in the same time period, Mohamed Lotfy’s wife was included in another court case, perhaps even more absurd, for terrorism, case still pending. It was clear to everyone already at the time that those accusations could not withstand an arrest, much less a detention, but the climate was very tense towards anti-regime activism. Furthermore, Fathy paid the price of the loud clamor, still alive, of the Giulio Regeni affair followed by the lawyers of the organization led by her husband. Many saw in his case a persistence towards theEcrf and the family of the Friulian researcher kidnapped and found dead on February 3, 2016. In the two previous years, the other director of the Commission, Ahmad Abdallah, had ended up in a cell for five months, while two lawyers following Regeni’s court case had different fates: Halem Henish was forced to flee in the United States, while Ibrahim Metwaly Hegazi he has been in prison for four years.

“The court’s decision to uphold Amal Fathy’s sentence to one year in prison proves once again that the Egyptian authorities are eager to ‘whitewash’ rather than improve their appalling human rights record. Hopes for justice for a human rights defender in Egypt have been crushed by shamelessly imperfect and patriarchal judiciary del Paese ”, is the comment on the story of Philip Luther, director of research and advocacy at Amnesty International for the Middle East and North Africa.

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