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Urgent Interventions

Abduction, acts of torture and arbitrary detention of Ms. Esraa Abdel Fattah

EGY 006 / 1019 / OBS 079

Abduction/ Torture /
Enforced disappearance /
Arbitrary detention


October15, 2019

TheObservatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a partnership of FIDHand the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) and FIDH, requests yoururgent intervention in the following situation in Egypt.

Descriptionof the situation:

TheObservatory has been informed by reliable sources about theabduction, enforced disappearance, acts of torture and arbitrary detention ofMs. Esraa Abdel Fattah, a journalist, political activist and founder ofthe “Free Egyptian Women Group” for women’s political empowerment[1].Ms. Esraa Abdel Fattah recently campaignedfor the release of all political prisoners detained to repress the Septemberprotest movement.

Accordingto the information received, on October 13, 2019, Ms. Esraa Abdel Fattahappeared before the State Security Prosecution and was assigned to Case488/2019 for “collaborating with a terrorist organisation to achieve itsgoals”, “spreading false news” and “using social media to publish falserumours”. The Prosecutor ordered a 15-day pre-trial detention against Ms. EsraaAbdel Fattah. She is now detained at a localpolice station in Cairo, in which family visits and access to lawyer arebanned. She will be transferred to Al-Qanateer women’s prison on October 15,2019.

Duringthe night of October 12, 2019, Ms. Esraa Abdel Fattah was abducted from thestreets in Cairo after a road chase. Ms. Abdel Fattah was driving her car, inpresence of a friend, when two unidentified vehicles full of plainclothespolice officers started chasing them on the road until they were able to stopMs. Abdel Fattah’s car. Ms. Abdel Fattah and her friend were both forciblytaken out of their car and separated in different vehicles. Ms. Abdel Fattah’sfriend was thrown away on a highway after one hour and reported beingblindfolded and severely beaten. Ms. Abdel Fattah’s fate and whereaboutsremained unknown for 24 hours.

Accordingto her lawyers, Ms. Abdel Fattah was physically assaulted and tortured duringthe first 24 hours of her disappearance. When abducted, Ms. Abdel Fattah wasblindfolded until she was taken to an unknown destination where she was kept inan unknown building. There, Ms. Abdel Fattah was left for almost seven hoursstanding, facing a wall, while blindfolded and handcuffed. Then, she was beatenrepeatedly as she refused to give the passwords of her mobile phone to herguards. Afterwards, she was relocated to another unknown building where she wasstifled with the jacket she was wearing, then hung with it in order to forceher to unlock her phone. After these attempts had failed, the security forcesused Ms. Abdel Fattah’s fingers to enter fingertouch passcode through whichthey succeeded in getting access to her phone, in search of her contacts.

Asa result of these acts of torture, Ms. Abdel Fattah went on a hunger strikewhen attending her interrogation. Her lawyers requested forensic evaluation toprove the State’s violations against Ms. Abdel Fattah in the context of theinvestigation. Consequently, security forces threatened Ms. Abdel Fattah thatshe would face more abuses if she disclosed the details of her detention. Despitethe abuses suffered, Ms.Abdel Fattah was denied medical care.

TheObservatory recalls that since the outbreak ofpopular protests across the country on September 20, 2019, calling for theresignation of President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, at least three thousand peoplehave been detained by the Egyptian authorities, including protesters,journalists, lawyers, and members of opposition political parties. Other humanrights defenders have also been arrested, including human rights lawyer Mahienour El-Massry[2],who is also prosecuted in Case 488/2019, bloggerAlaa Abdel Fattah and his lawyer, MohamedEl-Baqer[3], and women human rights defender Asmaa Dabees and herhusband, the lawyer Mohamed Helmy Hamdoun[4].

TheObservatory expresses its utmost concern over the abduction, enforceddisappearance, acts of torture and arbitrary detention of Ms. Esraa AbdelFattah and calls on the Egyptian authorities to guarantee in all circumstancesher physical integrity and psychological well-being, give her immediate accessto medical assistance, her family members and lawyer, and to immediately andunconditionally end any acts of harassment, including at the judicial level,against her and all the human rights defenders in Egypt.


Pleasewrite to the authorities in Egypt, urging them to:

i. Guaranteein all circumstances the physical integrity and psychological well-being of Ms.Esraa Abdel Fattah, as well as that of all human rights defenders inEgypt;

ii.Immediately and unconditionally release Ms. Esraa Abdel Fattah as her detention is arbitrary since it only seems to aim at punishingher for her human rights activities;

iii.Guarantee Ms. Esraa Abel Fattah’s immediate andunhindered access to medical assistance, her family members and a lawyer of herchoice;

iv.Carry out a transparent, impartial, immediate andthorough investigation into the above-mentioned allegations of torture in orderto identify all those responsible, bring them before an independent tribunal,and sanction them as provided by the law;

v.Put an end to all acts of harassment, including at the judicial level, againstMs. Esraa Abdel Fattah and all the human rights defenders inEgypt and ensure that they are able to carry out their activitieswithout hindrance;

vi.Conform in all circumstances to the provisions of the Declaration on HumanRights Defenders, adopted on December 9, 1998 by the United Nations GeneralAssembly, in particular its Articles 1 and 12.2.;

vii.Ensure in all circumstances respect for human rights and fundamental freedomsin accordance with international human rights instruments ratified by Egypt.


· Presidentof the Arab Republic of Egypt, H.E. Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, Fax: +202 23911441. Email:, Twitter: @AlsisiOfficial

· PrimeMinister, Mr. Mustafa Kemal Madbouly Mohamed. Email:

· Ministerof the Interior, Mr. Mahmoud Tawfik, Email:

· Ministerof Justice, Mr. Mohamed Hossam Abdel-Rahim, Fax: +202 2795 8103

· PublicProsecutor, Counsellor Nabeel Sadek, Fax: +202 2577 4716

· Headof the Egyptian parliament’s Human Rights Committee, Mr. Alaa Abed,

· Mr. MohamedFayeq, President of the National Council for Human Rights, Fax: + 202 25747497/ 25747670. Email:

· H.E.Mr. Alaa Youssef, Ambassador, Permanent Mission of Egypt to the UnitedNations in Geneva, Switzerland, Email:

· Embassyof Egypt in Brussels, Belgium, Fax: +32 2 675.58.88; Email:

Pleasealso write to the diplomatic missions or embassies of Egypt in your respectivecountry.


Paris-Geneva,October 15, 2019

Kindlyinform us of any action undertaken quoting the code of this appeal in yourreply.

TheObservatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders (the Observatory) wascreated in 1997 by FIDH and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT). Theobjective of this programme is to intervene to prevent or remedy situations ofrepression against human rights defenders. FIDH and OMCT are both members of,the European Union Human Rights Defenders Mechanism implemented byinternational civil society.

[1]Ms. Abdel Fattah has been involved in pro-democracy and political activism since themid-2000s. She was a prominent figure of the 25thJanuary Revolution and helped to drew international media attention to theevent. In 2011, she was a nominee for the Nobel Peace Prize.

[2] See Observatory Urgent Appeal EGY 003 / 0919/ OBS 074, published on September 23, 2019.

[3] See Observatory Urgent Appeal EGY 004 / 0919/ OBS 075.2, published on October 10, 2019.

[4] See Observatory Urgent Appeal EGY 005 / 0919/ OBS 076.1, published on October 4, 2019.

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