Acquittal of Egyptian Human Rights Defender Azza Soliman

Alerts, Egypt, Fair Trial, Independence of the Judiciary, Justice and the Rule of Law, Shrinking Space for Civil Society, Women’s rights and gender justice

On Saturday 24 October, a Cairo court of appeals confirmed that Azza Soliman, Director of the Centre for Egyptian Women’s Legal Aid (CEWLA) has been acquitted.

Azza Soliman’s acquittal comes with that of  16 other defendants who had had been charged with participation in an illegal protest after they came forward as witnesses to the fatal police shooting of political activist Shaimaa Al Sabbagh on 24 January 2015 .

This good news should not deter from the fact that judicial practices in Egypt cast serious doubts on the independence of the judicial system and on its ability to ensure accountability.

Earlier this summer, a low rank officer was charged with the murder of Shaimaa Al Sabbagh and is currently serving a 15 year-sentence in prison. The verdict is currently under appeal. This police officer is the only one to have been sentenced for unlawful use of force, while thousands of protesters have been detained for alleged violations of the Protest Law, which breaches international standards relating to freedom of assembly.