EGY 003 / 0917 / OBS 099.3
Arbitrary detention /
September 24, 2020
The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a joint 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.
The Observatory has been informed by reliable sources about the extension of the preventive detention of Mr. Ibrahim Metwally Hegazy, co-founder of the Association of Families of the Disappeared and a human rights lawyer who represents families of victims of enforced disappearances.
According to the information received, on September 6, 2020, Mr. Ibrahim Metwally Hegazy was investigated by State Security Prosecuting in Case 786/2020 and charged with “leading a terror group”, which the authorities accused him of having formed while in preventive detention. This new charge came just after the Criminal Court of Cairo had ordered his release on August 26, 2020 under precautionary measures in State Security Case 1470/2019. Despite the August 26 release decision, Mr. Hegazy was kept in detention until new charges were brought against him on September 6, manifestly as a way to keep him under preventive detention.
The Observatory recalls that Mr. Ibrahim Metwally Hegazy has been under preventive detention since September 10, 2017 (see background information), which exceeds the permissible legal period of two years under the Egyptian criminal procedures law. He is also still facing charges of “founding and leading an illegal organisation”, “communicating with foreign entities in order to undermine national security” and “spreading false news”.
The Observatory expresses its utmost concern over Mr. Ibrahim Metwally Hegazy’s ongoing arbitrary detention and judicial harassment, which seem to be only aimed at punishing him for his legitimate human rights activities.
The Observatory urges the Egyptian authorities to guarantee in all circumstances Mr. Ibrahim Metwally's physical integrity and psychological well-being, and to release him and all other human rights defenders arbitrarily detained in Egypt immediately and unconditionally.
On September 10, 2017, Mr. Metwally Hegazy disappeared at Cairo International Airport before boarding a flight to Geneva. Mr. Metwally Hegazy was travelling to Switzerland in response to an invitation by the United Nations (UN) Working Group on Enforced Disappearances (WGEID) to attend the proceedings of its 113th Session, held from September 11 to 15, 2017 at the UN Human Rights Council.
The whereabouts of Mr. Metwally Hegazy remained unknown until September 12, 2017, in the evening, when the Stop Enforced Disappearance Campaign reported he had been located in State Security Prosecution (SSP) custody, in Al-Tagammo’ al-Khamis on the outskirts of Cairo. During his interrogation by the SSP, his home was searched by security forces. The official invitation made by the WGEID and Mr. Hegazy’s passport were confiscated as evidence in the criminal case No. 900/2017 opened against him. The SSP ordered the detention of Mr. Ibrahim Metwally Hegazy for 15 days pending investigation, and sent him to the high security wing of Tora prison complex.
On September 20, 2017, the High State Security Prosecution renewed the preventive detention of Mr. Ibrahim Metwally Hegazy for 15 days pending investigation. Mr. Ibrahim Metwally Hegazy was suspected of “founding and leading an organisation that was created illegally” (i.e. the Association of Families of the Disappeared), “spreading false news” and “communicating with foreign entities in order to undermine national security”.
In addition, Mr. Ibrahim Metwally Hegazy reported to his lawyers that during his enforced disappearance at State Security premises between September 10 and 12, 2017, he was tortured, including by electrocution.
After two years of preventive detention in inhumane conditions, Mr. Ibrahim Metwally Hegazy was finally ordered release on October 14, 2019 in State Security Case 900/2017. Yet he remained detained until he was accused in Case 1470/2019 on November 5, 2019.
Please write to the authorities of Egypt asking them to:
i. Guarantee, in all circumstances, the physical integrity and psychological well-being of Mr. Ibrahim Metwally Hegazy and all other human rights defenders in Egypt;
ii. Immediately and unconditionally release Mr. Ibrahim Metwally Hegazy and all other human rights defenders detained in Egypt as their detention is arbitrary since it only seems to aim at punishing them for their human rights activities;
iii. Put an end to all acts of harassment, including at the judicial level, against Mr. Ibrahim Metwally Hegazy, as well as against all human rights defenders in Egypt, and ensure that they are able to carry out their activities without hindrance or fear of reprisals;
iv. Order an immediate, thorough, transparent, effective and impartial investigation into the above-mentioned allegations of torture of Mr. Ibrahim Metwally Hegazy in order to identify all those responsible, bring them before an independent tribunal and apply the sanctions provided by the law to them;
v. Conform with the provisions of the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations on December 9, 1998, especially its Articles 1 and 12.2;
vi. More generally, ensure in all circumstances the respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in accordance with international human rights standards and international instruments to which Egypt is a State party.
● 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. Alaa Abed, Email: email@example.com
● Mr. Mohamed Fayeq, President of the National Council for Human Rights, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
● H.E. Mr. Alaa Youssef, 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, September 24, 2020
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 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.
 The organisation aims to determine the fate and whereabouts of "disappeared" family members. Mr. Metwally Hegazy became an active human rights defender working on the issue of enforced disappearances after the disappearance of his son Amr Ibrahim Metwally, who was forcibly disappeared on July 8, 2013 and is still missing. Mr. Ibrahim Metwally Hegazy reportedly also provided legal advice to Giulio Regeni’s family. Giulio Regeni was an Italian graduate who was abducted and tortured to death in Egypt. See OMCT Press Release, “A year after Regeni’s death, still no justice or steps to end torture in Egypt”, issued on January 25, 2017.