Egypt: terrorism charges and arrest warrants issued against human rights lawyers Mahmoud Mohamed Abdelmajeed and Mohamed Issa Rajeh (joint communication)

The following is based on a communication sent by the UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders and other UN experts to the Government of Egypt on 20 March 2024. The communication remained confidential for 60 days before being made public, giving the Government time to reply. Regrettably, the Government did not reply within this timeframe. If a reply is received it will be posted on the UN Special Procedures communications database.

Since the communication was sent, there has been no change in the two human rights lawyers’ situation.

This is a shorter version of the original communication. 

Read the full communication


Topic: the terrorism charges and arrest warrants issued against two Egyptian human rights lawyers, Mr. Mahmoud Mohamed Abdelmajeed and Mr. Mohamed Issa Rajeh who work with the Egyptian Front for Human Rights (EFHR), a human rights organisation based abroad documenting human rights violations and carrying out international human rights advocacy activities relating to Egypt. Both lawyers are currently residing abroad.

Mr. Mahmoud Mohamed Abdelmajeed is a 29-year-old Egyptian lawyer with the EFHR since 2019; he provides legal assistance to journalists, human rights defenders and political activists.

Mr. Mohamed Issa Rajeh, 33-years old, is an Egyptian lawyer with the EFHR, providing legal support to detainees.

Both lawyers have monitored prison conditions in Egypt and have documented human rights violations on behalf of the EFHR in their international advocacy, in particular for contributions to UN human rights mechanisms.

The Egyptian Front for Human Rights, a non-governmental organisation based in the Czech Republic with offices in Cairo and Brussels, provides legal support to political detainees and documents human rights abuses in Egypt, including arbitrary detentions, enforced disappearances, and monitors and reports on trials and conditions of detention. It provides assistance to alleged victims of human rights violations to avail themselves of the procedures established under the auspices of the United Nations for the protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms. The EFHR has also engaged with UN mechanisms and has contributed to the joint NGO submissions for the 2023 review of Egypt by the Human Rights Committee,[1] and the 2023 Universal Periodic Review mid-term report,[2] among others.


In June 2023, Mr. Abdelmajeed and Mr. Rajeh were informed that they had reportedly been included in the Supreme State Security Case no. 1233/2023, under which they had been charged with joining and funding a terrorist group by providing that group with information about political detainees in Egypt.

The State Security Prosecution has issued an arrest warrant against them, yet neither individual was officially informed about their arrest warrants nor the charges against them. It is not known when their trial will start, and their lawyers have not been able to access their clients’ files or charge sheet.

There are reasonable grounds to believe that the legal case against Mr. Abdelmajeed and Mr. Rajeh is linked to their cooperation with the United Nations in the field of human rights. The Egyptian Front for Human Rights documents human rights violations against political detainees in Egypt and provides legal or other assistance to them to submit communications under procedures established pursuant to United Nations human rights instruments.


In the communication, we express our concern at the prosecution of Mr. Abdelmajeed and Mr. Rajeh as a result of the legitimate exercise of their profession as human rights lawyers and their documentation of human rights violations. We are equally concerned that they are charged under Egypt’s counter-terrorism law, which contravenes international human rights law, and that they would face heavy penalties if convicted. We reiterate our concerns about the vagueness of the counter-terrorism and national security legislation in Egypt. We note with concern that this legislation is reportedly being misused to target, inter alia, human rights defenders, journalists and civil society organizations critical of the government.

We underscore to the Government of Egypt that counter-terrorism legislation must be sufficiently precise so as to comply with the principle of legality under article 15 of the ICCPR so as to as to avoid the risk of abuse of over-broad offences. Counter-terrorism law must also not unnecessarily or disproportionately restrict other human rights, including freedoms of association, assembly, expression and opinion (A/HRC/40/52) and all restrictions to freedom of expression should comply with the standards set out in article 19(3) ICCPR.

Furthermore, we are concerned that the two defenders were not informed about their indictment and the charges against them, nor have their lawyers been able to access their charge sheet.

We are also concerned that the charges against the two human rights defenders appear to be connected to their legitimate work in documenting human rights violations and communicating them to international human rights organisations, including to UN human rights mechanisms. The free exercise of the legal profession helps to ensure access to justice, control of state power, protection of fair trial and due process and other judicial guarantees.

We recall that every individual has the right to be informed, at the time of his arrest, of the reasons for this arrest and will receive notification, as soon as possible, of any accusation brought against him.

Regarding legal representation, we are concerned about the alleged restricted access that their lawyers have had to their client’s file – a key element of due process.

We would also like to remind the Government of Egypt that any trial in absentia must meet the stringent safeguards under international human rights law for such trials, namely that all due steps have been taken to inform accused persons of the charges and to notify them of the proceedings, and that the possibility of a retrial in person must be available.

We urge the Government of Egypt to immediately cease all acts of reprisals and intimidation and arbitrary arrests against human rights defenders, and to allow Mr. Abdelmajeed and Mr. Rajeh to carry out their legitimate activities as human rights defenders in the future.




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