Egypt: Alaa Abdel Fattah and Mohamed El-Baqer arbitrarily added to "terror list"

27/11/2020
Urgent Appeal

New information
EGY 004 / 0919 / OBS 075.3
Arbitrary detention /
Judicial harassment
Egypt
November 27, 2020

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 by reliable sources about the decision to arbitrarily add Mr. Alaa Abdel Fattah, blogger and member of the “No to Military Trials for Civilians” movement [1], and Mr. Mohamed El-Baqer, human rights lawyer and Director of Adalah Center for Rights and Freedoms, to the “terrorist list” in Egypt.

According to the information received, on November 23, 2020, the Cairo Criminal Court published in the Egyptian Official Gazette the decision it made on November 19, 2020 to add Mr. Alaa Abdel Fattah and Mr. Mohamed El-Baqer, along with 27 other activists, to Egypt’s “terrorist list” for a period of five years in connection with State Security Case 1781/2019. The ruling includes restrictions such as a travel ban and a freeze on assets for three years.

The Observatory denounces the Court’s decision 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 condemns the ongoing arbitrary detention of Messrs. Mohamed El-Baqer and Alaa Abdel Fattah, which is part of a clear human rights crackdown which Egypt has been suffering from in recent years. The Observatory renews its calls on the Egyptian authorities to release Messrs. Mohamed El-Baqer and Alaa Abdel Fattah immediately and unconditionally as their detention is arbitrary as it seems to be only aimed at punishing them for their legitimate human rights activities,

Background Information:

On September 29, 2019, Mr. Mohamed El-Baqer was arrested at the State Security Prosecution premises while he was attending an investigation session with his client Mr. Alaa Abdel Fattah, who had been arrested earlier in the morning of that same day in his probation cell at the Dokki police station, where he was spending his daily 12 hours under police monitoring [2].

Messrs. Mohamed El-Baqer and Alaa Abdel Fattah were subsequently accused under Criminal Case 1356 of 2019 by State Security Prosecution and ordered 15 days of preventive detention under vague and unfounded charges that have been broadly used to criminalise all those that dare to defend human rights in Egypt: “belonging to a terrorist group”, “funding a terrorist group”, “spreading false news undermining national security” and “using social media to commit publishing offenses”. Their place of detention remained unknown until October 1, 2019, when the prison authorities informed their families that they were detained 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 [3]. 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 August 31, 2020, Mr. Mohamed El-Baqer was informed of new charges brought against him under a new criminal case, which include fabricated accusations of “joining an illegal organisation” and “being part of a criminal agreement with the purpose of committing a terrorist act from inside the prison”.

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 Messrs. Alaa Abdel Fattah and Mohamed El-Baqer, as well as that of all human rights defenders in Egypt;

ii. Release Messrs. 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 Messrs. 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;

iv. Conform in all circumstances to the provisions of the Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, adopted on December 9, 1998 by the United Nations General Assembly, in particular its Articles 1 and 12.2.;

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

Addresses:

• President of the Arab Republic of Egypt, H.E. Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, Email: p.spokesman@op.gov.eg, Twitter: @AlsisiOfficial
• Prime Minister, Mr. Mustafa Kemal Madbouly Mohamed. Email: pm@cabinet.gov.eg 
• Minister of the Interior, Mr. Mahmoud Tawfik, Email: center@iscmi.gov.eg
• Head of the Egyptian Parliament’s Human Rights Committee, Mr. Alaa Abed, Email: humanrightscomplaints@parliament.gov.eg
• Mr. Mohamed Fayeq, President of the National Council for Human Rights, Email: nchr@nchr.org.eg
• H.E. Mr. Alaa Youssef, Ambassador, Permanent Mission of Egypt to the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, Email: mission.egypt@bluewin.ch
• Embassy of Egypt in Brussels, Belgium, Email: embassy.egypt@skynet.be

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

***
Geneva-Paris, November 27, 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.

To contact the Observatory, call the emergency line:
• E-mail: Appeals@fidh-omct.org
• Tel OMCT +41 22 809 49 29
• Tel FIDH +33 1 43 55 18 80

[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.
[3] For more information, see the Observatory urgent appeal EGY 004 / 0919 / OBS 075.2 published on October 10, 2019.

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