Bärbel Kofler, Federal Government Commissioner for Human Rights Policy and Humanitarian Assistance at the Federal Foreign Office, issued the following statement today (14 February) following the detention of student and researcher Patrick Zaky and lawyer Mohamed El- Baqer, as well as the sentencing of publisher Khaled Lotfy by a military court in Egypt:
I am appalled that people are being arrested more and more frequently in Egypt simply for pursuing their legitimate professional occupations.
On 7 February, the student and researcher Patrick Zaky was arrested when entering the country from Italy and, according to his lawyer, tortured. I am also shocked by the detention of lawyer Mohamed El-Baqer, who was arrested while pursuing his legal occupation. The publisher Khaled Lotfy was sentenced by a military court to five years’ imprisonment for publishing the Arabic translation of a novel.
The Egyptian constitution guarantees the right to freedom of opinion, research, a fair trial and artistic freedom. I call on the Egyptian Government to uphold these civil rights also in practice. Patrick Zaky, Mohamed El-Baqer and Khaled Lotfy should not be behind bars for going about their professions. Members of the public must be able to pursue their legitimate professional occupations without fear of persecution.
I welcome the pardons granted in a number of similar cases at the end of January and I encourage the Egyptian Government to issue more such pardons.