ITUC OnLine – October 12, 2007

Brussels, 12 October 2007 (ITUC OnLine): Kamal Abbas, General Coordinator of the Center for Trade Unions and Workers Services (CTUWS) and his lawyer, Mohamed Helmy have been sentenced one year’s imprisonment by an Egyptian court. A law suit for alleged “slander and defamation of character” against Kamal Abbas was filed by Mohamed Ibrahim, chairman of the board of directors of a youth centre in 15 May City and member of the ruling National Democratic Party (NDP).

According to Kamal Abbas, this is no coincidence. “It is all part of the government’s general crack-down on civil society” he said. Abbas and his lawyer were taken to court after publishing a report in the CTUWS magazine Kalam Sinai’ia (Workers’ Talk) about an investigation into financial and administrative irregularities in the running of the youth centre. The allegations of corruption against Mr Ibrahim were in fact corroborated by an internal investigation conducted by the Youth Centre, whose Board of Directors was subsequently dissolved by the Governor of Cairo.

The ITUC and Solidar strongly condemn the prison sentences that follow a long tradition of repression of the CTUWS, an independent civil society organisation committed to defending trade union and other workers right in Egypt. “We are very concerned about this latest attack on the CTUWS” declared Guy Ryder, ITUC General Secretary, “This organisation has earned itself great esteem in the international trade union movement for its active role in providing support to Egyptian workers struggling for the respect of fundamental labour standards in their country.” he added. The sentences, which come in a wave of prosecutions against journalists for publishing offences, are also an attack on the freedom to publish information and the freedom of expression, which are guaranteed by the Egyptian constitution.

In a letter to the Egyptians authorities, The ITUC and Solidar urge President Hosni Mubarak to ensure that the CTUWS is not persecuted in its work and ask that he review this particular case.