About the case:
Ramy Essam is an Egyptian musician best known for his performance in Tahrir Square in Cairo during the Egyptian Revolution of 2011. His song Irhal, in which then Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak was urged to resign is referred to as the anthem of the revolution and was selected in 2011 by Time Out as the third-most world-changing song of all time. As a result of his music and activism, on 9 March 2011 Ramy was arrested and held in custody for four hours, during which time he was beaten and tortured. His songs were banned in Egypt, he was threated on national TV by high-level public officials and forbidden to perform public shows. In 2014 Ramy arrived in Sweden seeking a better and freer environment to create and perform his music. In 2018 Avant-Garde Lawyers succeeded in detangling a complex immigration issue regarding his legal status in Sweden and obtained a favorable decision from the Swedish Migration Agency.
Legal strategy and case management: AGL
Local immigration lawyer: Nicklas Dahlbeck (Stockholms Advokatbyrå)
Partner organization: Artistic Freedom Initiative (AFI)
Thank you for their invaluable input to: Omar Bembli (Swedish Ministry of Finance) and Mattew Covey (CoveyLaw).
We as artists are great in nurturing our own creativity, but we struggle when it comes to knowing and fighting for our rights as musicians. Being in contact and having a direct link with lawyers is an extremely important part of an artist’s life, especially in the current climate where artists can be travel-banned or in danger for just releasing their music. In my case, because of my complex situation, I was struggling for more than 7 months to obtain a travel document in Sweden. It was when the case was sent to Avant-Garde Lawyers that things started to move. The hard work and urgent dedication of avant-garde lawyers, Andra Matei and Niklas Dahlbeck made miracles: documents were delivered in less than a month! They fought with their heart and legal knowledge so that I can now travel freely, to see family and friends and honor my work commitments. Thank you, thank you to Avant-Garde Lawyers for helping me overcome a difficult time in my life and become a working artist again!
On January 31st 2018 my client, activist and musician Ramy Essam applied for a travel document after his passport was refused renewal by Egyptian authorities. Ramy is a Safe Haven Artist and a Permanent Resident of Sweden. We waited for over 7 months on Swedish Migration, but no document came. As his manager and with 5 US and Canadian tours booked in 2018 we watched work we had counted on disappear. As the months went by we canceled tour dates until we were at the end of August and had canceled his income for the entire year. Desperate to salvage our fall dates we contacted Artists Freedom Initiative who we had a concert planned with in early September in NYC and told them we were having no movement in our application. Lawyers from the organization Artist Freedom Initiative got us in touch with Avant-Garde Lawyers Organization to help. AGL took on our case pro bono. The AGL team, Andra Matei and Niklas Dahlbeck understood the urgent nature of our case and it was their legal analysis and strategy that miraculously got us the travel document in less than a month!
Beyond just securing the travel document AGL interfaced with our immigration attorney in New York who had gotten us our US 0-1 Visa and helped guide us with the next steps of moving our 0-1 Visa from the old passport to the new document. With the generous support from these organizations we are now back to work and able to travel again. Thank you! Val Denn