The International Women’s Health Coalition denounces today’s arrest of women’s rights activist and lawyer Azza Soliman. Ms. Soliman is the chair of the board of trustees of the Center for Egyptian Women’s Legal Assistance (CEWLA), an organization that provides legal assistance to disadvantaged Egyptian women. The arrest of Ms. Soliman is part of an intensifying and extremely troubling crackdown against Egyptian civil society.
Today’s arrest is an escalation of recent actions taken against Ms. Soliman. On November 17, 2016, Ms. Soliman was on her way to Jordan when she was informed that a judicial order had been issued to ban her from traveling outside Egypt. This order was issued without any due process – she was never notified of any charges, hearing, or investigation, nor given an opportunity to respond to any charges.
Ms. Soliman has also since learned that her personal bank accounts, as well as her law firm’s assets, have been frozen. When she met with the General Prosecutor’s office on November 23 to ascertain the facts, Ms. Soliman was informed that neither they nor any of the relevant courts had a written record of a judgment against her. This situation clearly violates the Egyptian Criminal Code and Law on Criminal Procedure, the Egyptian Constitution, and international human rights law.
The International Women’s Health Coalition urges the government of Egypt to cease its harassment of women’s human rights defenders and civil society organizations, and to immediately halt its intimidation of Ms. Soliman.