URGENT APPEAL - THE OBSERVATORY
EGY 001 / 0221 / OBS 023.2
Arbitrary detention /
Judicial harassment /
July 5, 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.
The Observatory has been informed about the sentencing and ongoing arbitrary detention of Ahmed Samir Santawy, a master’s student in Sociology and Social Anthropology at the Central European University (CEU) of Austria, in Vienna, whose academic work focuses on women’s rights in Egypt, particularly on the history of reproductive rights. His main concern is the protection of women’s reproductive rights and their access to legal and safe treatments in order to preserve their lives.
On June 22, 2021, the Misdemeanours Emergency State Security Court sentenced Ahmed Samir Santawy to four years in prison and a fine of 500 LE (approximately 27 Euros) on charges of “spreading false news from outside the country about the internal situation” in Case 774/2021. This conviction is related to a new criminal investigation opened against Mr. Santawy on May 22, 2021, by the Supreme State Security Prosecution (SSSP) based on social media posts he allegedly wrote. This verdict is not subject to appeal and will be implemented immediately upon signature by the President of the Republic. On June 23, 2021, Mr. Santawy, who remains detained in Liman Tora prison, south of Cairo, went on a hunger strike to protest this decision.
The Observatory recalls that Ahmed Samir Santawy was arbitrarily arrested on February 1, 2021 and held incommunicado for the following five days. On February 6, 2021, the State Security Prosecutor formally charged Mr. Santawy with “joining a terrorist organization”, “deliberately spreading false news and data”, and “use of a private account on the Internet to spread false news or data” in Case 65/2021, based on screenshots from a Facebook account which allegedly belongs to him. The prosecution remanded Mr. Santawy to pretrial detention at the Liman Tora prison. In addition, on February 23, 2021, the SSSP charged Mr. Santawy with "funding a terrorist organization", based on alleged new evidence from the National Security Agency investigation. During his February 6 and February 23 hearings, Ahmed Samir Santawy reported that he had been subjected to ill-treatment during his interrogation on February 1, 2021, and that he was held in very poor detention conditions since he was transferred to Liman Tora Prison on February 6, 2021.
The Observatory further recalls that Ahmed Samir Santawy is not the first international student who has been targeted by the Egyptian authorities. On February 7, 2020, postgraduate student at Bologna University (Italy) and Gender and Human Rights researcher at the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR) Patrick George Zaki was arrested at Cairo airport upon his arrival from Italy and allegedly subjected to torture during his interrogations. He remains detained in Tora prison ever since.
The Observatory underlines that the Egyptian authorities have increasingly employed repressive tactics such as the arbitrary revival of cases, 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 condemns the sentencing of Ahmed Samir Santawy and expresses its utmost concern over its ongoing arbitrary detention and judicial harassment which seem to be only aimed at punishing him for his legitimate human rights activities. The Observatory calls on the Egyptian authorities to quash this unfair sentence and to immediately and unconditionally release him.
Please write to the authorities in Egypt, urging them to:
i. Guarantee, in all circumstances, the physical integrity and psychological well-being of Ahmed Samir Santawy and Patrick George Zaki as well as of all other human rights defenders in Egypt;
ii. Immediately and unconditionally quash Ahmed Samir Santawy’s sentence and release him and Patrick George Zaki, as their detention is arbitrary since it only seems to aim at punishing them for their human rights activities, and drop all charges against them;
iii. Put an end to all acts of harassment, including at the judicial level, against Ahmed Samir Santawy and Patrick George Zaki, 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;
iv. Carry out an immediate, independent and impartial investigation into the alleged above-mentioned acts of ill-treatment against Ahmed Samir Santawy and Patrick George Zaki in order to bring all those responsible before a competent tribunal in accordance with international standards.
- President of the Arab Republic of Egypt, H.E. Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org, Twitter: @AlsisiOfficial
- Prime Minister, Mr. Mustafa Kemal Madbouly Mohamed. Email: email@example.com
- Minister of the Interior, Mr. Mahmoud Tawfik, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Head of the Egyptian Parliament’s Human Rights Committee, Mr. Tarek Radwan, Email: email@example.com
- Mr. Mohamed Fayeq, President of the National Council for Human Rights, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- H.E. Mr. Ahmed Ihab Abdelahad Gamaleldin, Ambassador, Permanent Mission of Egypt to the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, Email: email@example.com
- Embassy of Egypt in Brussels, Belgium, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Please also write to the diplomatic missions or embassies of Egypt in your respective country.
Geneva-Paris, July 5, 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 (0) 1 43 55 25 18
- Tel OMCT: +41 (0) 22 809 49 39
- Urgent Interventions
Egypt: New charges against master's student Ahmed Samir Santawy
- Urgent Interventions
Egypt: Arbitrary detention and ill-treatment of master's student Ahmed Samir Santawy