Egypt: Amal Fathy sentenced to 2 years in prison

01/10/2018
Urgent Appeal

New information
EGY 002 / 0518 / OBS 059.7
Sentencing /
Arbitrary detention /
Judicial harassment
Egypt
October 1, 2018

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 sentencing and ongoing arbitrary detention of Ms. Amal Fathy, a woman human rights defender known for being vocal against human rights violations, in particular the arbitrary detention of activists in Egypt. Ms. Amal Fathy is married to Mr. Mohamed Lotfy, Executive Director of the Egyptian Commission for Rights and Freedoms (ECRF) [1].
 
According to the information received, on September 29, 2018, the Maadi Misdemeanours Court in Cairo sentenced Amal Fathy to two years in prison, a fine of 10’000 Egyptian pounds (around 474 EUR) and a bail of 20’000 Egyptian pounds (around 950 EUR) to suspend the sentence. She is accused of “publication of false news undermining national security”, “possession of indecent material”, and “publicly insulting”, in relation to a to video posted on Facebook on May 9, 2018 in which Ms. Fathy criticises the Egyptian Government for failing to protect women against sexual harassment as well as over a general deterioration in living conditions in the country. On September 30, 2018, she appealed the case and paid the bail. The first appeal hearing is scheduled on October 25, 2018.

Furthermore, on September 26, 2018, the pre-trial detention of Ms. Amal Fathy was renewed again for 15 days under another pending set of accusations of allegedly “joining a terrorist group”, “publishing false news to disrupt public security and harm national interests” and “using the internet to call for acts of terrorism” (Case No. 621 of 2018 or State Security Prosecution Case).

The Observatory recalls that Ms. Amal Fathy is arbitrarily detained at Qanater women’s prison since May 11, 2018 (see background information), and that her health condition is deteriorating as she suffers from acute stress reaction caused by her arbitrary detention.

The Observatory is extremely concerned by the sentencing and ongoing arbitrary detention of Ms. Fathy and by her deteriorating health conditions in that context. Therefore, the Observatory urges the Egyptian authorities to immediately and unconditionally release Ms. Fathy, drop all charges against her and, in the meanwhile, to ensure that she has immediate and unhindered access to adequate health care and to a psychologist.

Background information:

 
On May 9, 2018, Ms. Amal Fathy posted a 12-minute video on Facebook criticising the Egyptian Government for its failure to protect women against sexual harassment as well as over a general deterioration in living conditions in the country.
 
The next day, pro-government and State-owned media outlets released articles citing the video, identifying Ms. Amal Fathy as an “April 6 Youth movement” activist, the wife of Mr. Mohamed Lotfy and accusing her of insulting Egypt and Egyptian institutions. This was followed by a wave of harassment and threats on social media against Ms. Amal Fathy.
 
On May 11, 2018, at around 2.30 am, Egyptian security forces raided the house of Ms. Amal Fathy and Mr. Mohamed Lotfy in Cairo and started searching it. Their mobile phones were seized and they were denied the right to communicate with a lawyer or their relatives. The two activists were brought to Maadi police station, in southern Cairo, along with their three-year-old son.
 
Around three hours later, Mr. Lotfy and his son were released. The Maadi Prosecutor subsequently placed Ms. Amal Fathy under preventive detention for 15 days within the framework of Criminal case No. 7991 of 2018.
 
On May 12, 2018, Ms. Amal Fathy was transferred to Qanater women’s prison. 
 
On May 13, 2018, Ms. Amal Fathy was questioned by the High State Security Prosecution about the “April 6 Youth Movement”, ECRF and the activities of her husband. She was then placed under preventive detention for an additional 15 days in the framework of another case, Criminal case No. 621 of 2018.

On May 24, the Maadi Prosecutor extended Ms. Amal Fathy’s preventive detention for 15 additional days within the framework of Case No. 7991 of 2018, without providing reason. Ms. Fathy appealed the decision. On May 30, 2018, Ms. Fathy’s appeal was rejected.

On June 7, 2018, the Maadi Prosecutor extended for the third time Ms. Amal Fathy’s preventive detention for a further 2-week period, without providing any reason.

On June 21, 2018, the Criminal Court of South Cairo approved the release on bail of Ms. Amal Fathy within the framework of Case No. 7991 of 2018 upon payment of a 10’000 EGP guarantee (approximately 480 EUR).

 
Actions requested:
 
Please write to the authorities of Egypt asking them to:
 
i. Guarantee in all circumstances the physical and psychological integrity of Ms. Amal Fathy, Mr. Mohamed Lotfy, their relatives and all human rights defenders in Egypt, including by ensuring immediate and unhindered access to adequate medical care;
 
ii. Immediately and unconditionally release Ms. Amal Fathy as her detention is arbitrary as it is merely aimed at punishing her for her human rights activities as well as those of her husband;
 
iii. Put an end to all acts of harassment, including at the judicial level, against Ms. Amal Fathy as well as against Mr. Mohamed Lotfy and all human rights defenders in Egypt, and ensure that they are able to carry out their activities without hindrance; 

iv. 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 Articles 1, 6(c) and 12.2; and
 
v. More generally, ensure in all circumstances the respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in accordance with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and with international and regional human rights instruments ratified by Egypt.
 
Addresses:

President of the Arab Republic of Egypt, H.E. Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, Fax: +202 2391 1441. 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
Minister of Justice, Mr. Mohamed Hossam Abdel-Rahim, Fax: +202 2795 8103 

Minister of Social Solidarity, Mrs. Ghada Wali, Tel: +202 333 75420
Public Prosecutor, Counsellor Nabeel Sadek, Fax: +202 2577 4716
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, Fax: + 202 25747497 / 25747670. 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, Fax: +32 2 675.58.88; Email: embassy.egypt@skynet.be

Please also write to the diplomatic missions or embassies of Egypt in your respective country. 
 
***
Geneva-Paris, October 1, 2018
 
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. 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 and fax OMCT + 41 22 809 49 39 / + 41 22 809 49 29
Tel and fax FIDH + 33 1 43 55 25 18 / +33 1 43 55 18 80

[1] The Observatory recalls that this is not the first time that ECRF and its members are subjected to harassment, due to their documentation of cases of torture in prisons, enforced disappearances as well as their legal support in Giulio Regeni’s case (See Observatory Urgent Appeal EGY 004 / 0917 / OBS 105, published on September 27, 2017)

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