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*Update: The Supreme State Security Prosecution ordered the release of Ibrahim Ezz El-Din on April 23, 2022 and he was effectively released on April 26, 2022*
STATEMENT - THE OBSERVATORY
Paris-Geneva, June 11, 2021 – On the second anniversary of Ibrahim Ezz El-Din’s arbitrary detention, the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders (OMCT-FIDH) calls for his immediate and unconditional release and urges the authorities to put an immediate end to all acts of harassment against human rights defenders in Egypt.
Two years ago, on June 11, 2019, Ibrahim Ezz El-Din was arbitrarily arrested in Cairo, after finishing work and having left the office of the Egyptian Commission for Rights and Freedoms (ECRF). For 167 days, Ibrahim Ezz El-Din’s whereabouts remained unknown for his family and colleagues, as the authorities consistently denied his detention. He at last reappeared at Supreme State Security Prosecution (SSSP) on November 26, 2019, where he was informed he was being investigated on accusations of “contributing to the achievement of the objectives of a terrorist group” and “publication of false information undermining national security” under Case 488 of 2019.
On December 27, 2020, the Cairo Criminal Court ordered Ibrahim Ezz El-Din’s release on probation. However, this decision was never enforced as only six days after the SSSP opened a new investigation against him on trumped-up charges of “belonging to a terrorist group” under Case 1018 of 2020 in order to keep him detained. Ibrahim Ezz El-Din’s pre-trial detention has been continuously renewed since November 2019. He remains detained in Tora prison, in Cairo.
Ibrahim Ezz El-Din is an urban planning engineer and a human rights defender who was working as a researcher at the ECRF at the time of his detention. He focused on the right to adequate housing, documenting living conditions in slums, forced evictions and Egypt’s urban planning policies.
His detention seems to be aimed at preventing him from carrying his legitimate human rights activities and is part of a clear human rights regression which Egypt has been suffering from in recent years. Authorities have increasingly employed repressive tactics such as renewed and prolonged pre-trial detention, enforced disappearance, torture, and judicial harassment to silence all critical voices, including through unfounded investigations for terrorism and national security-related charges.
In a public statement released on January 2021, the UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders urged the immediate release of all human rights defenders and called for an end to the misuse of anti-terrorism and national security laws and prolonged pre-trial detention to criminalise the work of civil society actors in Egypt. The European Parliament also issued two urgency resolution on the situation of human rights defenders in Egypt, including Ibrahim Ezz El-Din, in October 2019 and December 2020.
The Observatory keeps standing in solidarity with Ibrahim Ezz El-Din and urges the authorities in Egypt to immediately and unconditionally release him. The Observatory further calls on the authorities to put an end to any act of harassment, including at the judicial level, against him and all human rights defenders in the country.
The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders (the Observatory) was created in 1997 by the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) and FIDH. The objective of this programme is to intervene to prevent or remedy situations of repression against human rights defenders. OMCT and FIDH are both members of ProtectDefenders.eu, the European Union Human Rights Defenders Mechanism implemented by international civil society.