Alert: New guide on best practices to protect detained children from torture
Egypt
25.11.21
Urgent Interventions

Egypt: Mohamed El-Baqer and Alaa Abdel Fattah's detention is ongoing

URGENT APPEAL - THE OBSERVATORY

New information
EGY 004 / 0919 / OBS 075.6
Arbitrary detention /
Judicial harassment
Egypt
November 25, 2021

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a partnership of the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) and FIDH, 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 judicial harassment of Mohamed El-Baqer, human rights lawyer and Director of Adalah Center for Rights and Freedoms and Alaa Abdel Fattah, a blogger and a member of the “No to Military Trials for Civilians” movement[1].

On November 18, 2021, the Court of Cassation of Egypt rejected the appeal presented by the lawyers of Mohamed El-Baqer and Alaa Abdel Fattah against the decision to include both human rights defenders to Egypt’s “terrorist list” for a period of five years issued by the Cairo Criminal Court on November 19, 2020. The Court of Cassation issued its ruling despite the advisory decision submitted by the Cassation Prosecution recommending the Court to accept the appeal and remove the defenders from the terrorist list. The decision of the Court of Cassation is final and hence cannot be appealed.

The Observatory recalls that Mohamed El-Baqer and Alaa Abdel Fattah were arbitrarily included in the terrorist list in connection with Criminal Case 1781 of 2019 along with 27 other activists. The ruling includes restrictions such as travel bans, freezing of assets and bans on practicing civil work and founding or joining associations’ boards. Moreover, should Mohamed El-Baqer be released, he will not be able to practice law as a result of this decision.

The Observatory further 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. His lawyer, 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 maximum security Tora prison.

On October 18, 2021, Mohamed El-Baqer, Alaa Abdel Fattah as well as Mohamed Ibrahim were referred to trial before the Misdemeanours Emergency State Security Court in Cairo. They were charged with “spreading false news undermining national security” in Criminal Case 1228 of 2021, which would be identical to Criminal Case 1356 of 2019. The pronouncement of the verdict is scheduled on December 20, 2021. At the time of publication of this Urgent Appeal, Mohamed El-Baqer, Alaa Abdel Fattah and Mohamed Ibrahim remained detained at maximum security Tora prison, notorious for its cruel and inhuman detention conditions, such as lack of clean water, poor ventilation, and overcrowding. Their pre-trial detention has exceeded the maximum legal period of two years allowed under Egypt’s Criminal Procedure Code.

Since their arrest, 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 the Cairo Criminal Court. Moreover, their lawyers have been denied access to their case files and prevented from presenting their defence. 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. On September 13, 2021, the pretrial detention of Alaa Abdel Fattah was renewed for 45 days. The defender, 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.

The Observatory expresses its utmost concern over the ongoing arbitrary detention and judicial harassment of Mohamed El-Baqer, Alaa Abdel Fattah and Mohamed Ibrahim. The Observatory recalls that Egyptian authorities have increasingly employed repressive tactics such as prolonged pre-trial detention, recycling cases against dissidents, 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 calls on the Egyptian authorities to immediately and unconditionally release Mohamed El-Baqer, Alaa Abdel Fattah and Mohamed Ibrahim, as their detnetion is arbitrary since it seems to be only aimed at punishing them for their legitimate human rights activities, 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 Mohamed El-Baqer, Alaa Abdel Fattah and Mohamed Ibrahim, as well as that of all human rights defenders in Egypt;

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

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

Addresses:

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

***

Paris-Geneva, November 25, 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.

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