Egypt: Arbitrary arrest and enforced disappearance of WHRD Asmaa Dabees

Urgent Appeal

EGY 005 / 0919 / OBS 076
Arbitrary arrest /
Enforced disappearance
September 30, 2019

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a partnership of FIDH and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), requests your urgent intervention in the following situation in Egypt.

Description of the situation:
The Observatory has been informed by reliable sources about the arbitrary arrest and enforced disappearance of Ms. Asmaa Dabees, one of the leaders of the Egyptian feminist movement and founder of the “Daughter of the Nile”, an initiative working on violence against women in Beheira with a focus on domestic violence, female genital mutilation, and forced marriage. She is also a member of the Regional Coalition for Women Human Rights Defenders in the Middle East and North Africa (WHRD-MENA Coalition).

According to the information received, on September 26, 2019, police officers in civilian clothes arrested Ms. Asmaa Dabees, her husband, Mr. Mohamed Helmy, and her brother-in-law, in a cafe in Damanhour city (Nile Delta). Mr. Mohamed Helmy is a lawyer who has recently been active in representing people arrested during the recent anti-al-Sisi demonstrations.

The police officers handcuffed and blindfolded Ms. Asmaa Dabees and her family members before taking them in the police car. Since then, Ms. Asmaa Dabees, her husband and her brother-in-law’s whereabouts remain unknown and no information was provided regarding potential charges against them.

The Observatory recalls that since the outbreak of popular protests across the country on September 20, 2019, calling on President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi to resign, at least two thousands of protesters - including minors - have been detained by the Egyptian authorities, in addition to journalists, lawyers, and members of opposition political parties, which constitutes a new wave of repression of civil society. Other human rights defenders have also been arrested and are deemed to be forcibly disappeared, among them human rights lawyer Mahienour El-Massry, who was arrested on September 22, 2019 [1].

The Observatory expresses its utmost concern over the arbitrary arrest and enforced disappearance of Ms. Asmaa Dabees and her family members, and urges the Egyptian authorities to immediately disclose their whereabouts and allow them full access to lawyer and family.

The Observatory further urges the Egyptian authorities to release Ms. Asmaa Dabees and her family members immediately and unconditionally and to put an end to all forms of harassment against her, including at the judicial level, as well as against all the human rights defenders in Egypt.

Actions requested:  
Please write to the authorities in Egypt, urging them to:

i. Guarantee the physical integrity and psychological well-being of Ms. Asmaa Dabees, Mr. Mohamed Helmy and Ms. Dabees’ brother-in-law, in all circumstances, as well as that of all human rights defenders in Egypt;

ii. Immediately disclose Ms. Asmaa Dabees, Mr. Mohamed Helmy and Ms. Dabees’ brother-in-law’s place of detention and release them immediately and unconditionally: their detention is arbitrary since it only seems to aim at punishing Ms. Asmaa Dabees and Mr. Mohamed Helmy for their human rights activities;

iii. Guarantee the unhindered access of Ms. Asmaa Dabees, Mr. Mohamed Helmy and Ms. Dabees’ brother-in-law and her family members to a lawyer of her choice and her family members;

iv. Put an end to all acts of harassment, including at the judicial level, against Ms. Asmaa Dabees and Mr. Mohamed Helmy, as well as of all human rights defenders in Egypt and ensure that they are able to carry out their activities without hindrance;

v. 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.;

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


• President of the Arab Republic of Egypt, H.E. Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, Fax: +202 2391 1441. Email:, Twitter: @AlsisiOfficial
• Prime Minister, Mr. Mustafa Kemal Madbouly Mohamed. Email: 
• Minister of the Interior, Mr. Mahmoud Tawfik, Email:
• Minister of Justice, Mr. Mohamed Hossam Abdel-Rahim, Fax: +202 2795 8103 

• Public Prosecutor, Counsellor Nabeel Sadek, Fax: +202 2577 4716
• Head of the Egyptian parliament’s Human Rights Committee, Mr. Alaa Abed, Email:
• Mr. Mohamed Fayeq, President of the National Council for Human Rights, Fax: + 202 25747497 / 25747670. Email:
• H.E. Mr. Alaa Youssef, Ambassador, Permanent Mission of Egypt to the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, Email:
• Embassy of Egypt in Brussels, Belgium, Fax: +32 2 675.58.88; Email:

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

Paris-Geneva, September 30, 2019
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, the European Union Human Rights Defenders Mechanism implemented by international civil society.
To contact the Observatory, call the emergency line:
• E-mail:
• Tel and fax FIDH + 33 1 43 55 25 18 / +33 1 43 55 18 80
• Tel and fax OMCT + 41 22 809 49 39 / + 41 22 809 49 29

[1] See Observatory Urgent Appeal EGY 003 / 0919 / OBS 074, published on September 23, 2019.

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