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Egypt
24.09.21
Urgent Interventions

Egypt: Deterioration of health condition while in detention of Alaa Abdel Fattah

URGENT APPEAL - THE OBSERVATORY

New information
EGY 004 / 0919 / OBS 075.4
Deterioration of health condition /
Arbitrary detention /
Judicial harassment
Egypt
September 24, 2021

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a partnership of FIDH and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), has received new information and requests your urgent intervention in the following situation in Egypt.

New information:

The Observatory has been informed about the ongoing arbitrary detention and deterioration of health condition of Mr. Alaa Abdel Fattah, a blogger and a member of the “No to Military Trials for Civilians” movement[1].

On September 13, 2021, the pretrial detention of Alaa Abdel Fattah was renewed for 45 days by the terrorism circuit of the State Security Court residing in Cairo Criminal Court for further inquiries. Mr. Abdel Fattah, who did not appear during this hearing, was later able to meet with a judge and his lawyer, to whom he expressed his distress and suicidal thoughts. For almost two years, Mr. Abdel Fattah has been arbitrarily detained in solitary confinement in Tora High Security prison 2 where he has been facing dire detention conditions. In addition, Alaa Abdel Fattah’s family has been denied on several occasions the right to receive a weekly letter from him as mandated by the law.

The Observatory recalls that Alaa Abdel Fattah was arrested on September 29, 2019, in his probation cell at the Dokki police station, where he was spending his daily 12 hours under police monitoring[2]. His lawyer and Director of Adalah Center for Rights and Freedoms, Mr. Mohamed El-Baqer was arrested later that day at the State Security Prosecution premises while he was attending an investigation session with his client Mr. Abdel Fattah. The two human rights defenders were subsequently accused under Criminal Case 1356 of 2019 by State Security Prosecution under vague and unfounded charges of “belonging to a terrorist group”, “funding a terrorist group”, “spreading false news undermining national security” and “using social media to commit publishing offenses” and remanded in preventive detention in Tora High Security prison 2, which is known for its very poor conditions of detention.

Since their arrest, Messrs. Mohamed El-Baqer and Alaa Abdel Fattah’s right to due process has been continuously violated through countless and unjustified renewals of their preventive detention by both the Supreme State Security Prosecution and Cairo Criminal Court. Both of them have also been subjected to threats and acts of ill-treatment while in detention. While in prison both have been denied access to books, time in the prison yard, access to a radio, warm clothes during the winter, a mattress, and fresh air within their cells.

The Observatory further recalls that on November 19, 2020 the Cairo Criminal Court arbitrarily added Alaa Abdel Fattah and Mohamed El-Baqer, along with 27 other activists, to Egypt’s “terrorist list” for a period of five years, over accusations that they would allegedly have joined the banned Muslim Brotherhood. The Court also added the two of them to a new case, State Security Case 1781/2019, for which exact charges are still unknown. The ruling includes restrictions such as a travel ban and a freeze on assets for three years.

The Observatory expresses its utmost concern over the degrading health condition and psychological well-being of Alaa Abdel Fattah while in detention and condemns the Egyptian authorities’ use of the fight against terrorism to target human rights defenders. The Observatory further recalls that Egyptian authorities have increasingly employed repressive tactics such as prolonged pre-trial detention, enforced disappearance, torture, and judicial harassment to silence all critical voices, including through unfounded investigations for national security and counter-terrorism related charges.

The Observatory further condemns the ongoing arbitrary detention of Alaa Abdel Fattah and Mohamed El-Baqer, which seems to be only aimed at punishing them for their legitimate human rights activities, and calls on the Egyptian authorities to immediately and unconditionally release them and to guarantee their physical integrity and psychological well-being.

Actions requested:

Please write to the authorities in Egypt, urging them to:

i. Guarantee in all circumstances the physical integrity and psychological well-being of Alaa Abdel Fattah and Mohamed El-Baqer, as well as that of all human rights defenders in Egypt;

ii. Release Mohamed El-Baqer and Alaa Abdel Fattah immediately and unconditionally as their detention is arbitrary since it only seems to aim at punishing them for their human rights activities, and immediately remove them from the terrorist list;

iii. Put an end to all acts of harassment, including at the judicial level, against Mohamed El-Baqer and Alaa Abdel Fattah, as well as of all human rights defenders in Egypt and ensure that they are able to carry out their activities without hindrance.

Addresses:

Please also write to the diplomatic missions or embassies of Egypt in your respective country.

***

Paris-Geneva, September 24, 2021

Kindly inform us of any action undertaken quoting the code of this appeal in your reply.

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders (the Observatory) was created in 1997 by FIDH and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT). The objective of this programme is to intervene to prevent or remedy situations of repression against human rights defenders. FIDH and OMCT are both members of ProtectDefenders.eu, the European Union Human Rights Defenders Mechanism implemented by international civil society.

To contact the Observatory, call the emergency line:

  • E-mail: Appeals@fidh-omct.org
  • Tel FIDH: +33 1 43 55 18 80
  • Tel OMCT: +41 22 809 49 29

[1] This movement was set up in 2011 and denounced human rights abuses committed in particular by security forces and the army during the rule of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) after the fall of former President Mubarak.

[2] On March 29, 2019 Mr. Alaa Abdel Fattah was released under probation from Cairo’s Tora prison, at the term of his five-year sentence. As part of his probation, he was required to spend every night at the Dokki police station.

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