Egypt: Arbitrary arrest of Ms. Mahienour El-Massry

Urgent Appeal

EGY 003 / 0919 / OBS 074
Arbitrary arrest /
Enforced disappearance/
Judicial harassment
September 23, 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. Mahienour El-Massry, human rights lawyer known for her activism in favour of judicial independence and prisoners’ rights by organising peaceful protests, support activities for political prisoners and using social media to denounce human rights violations.

According to the information received, in the afternoon of September 22, 2019, three plain-clothes police officers arrested Ms. Mahienour El-Massry outside of the Supreme State Security Prosecution headquarters in Cairo’s Fifth Settlement neighborhood, and put her into a microbus. Since then, her place of detention has remained unknown, although lawyers reported seeing her taken in the National Security building for questioning.

Ms. Mahienour El-Massry was present as a lawyer at the Supreme State Security Prosecution office to follow up on the investigations of several of her clients, arrested during rare protests that occurred across the country on September 20 and 21, 2019, calling on President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi to resign. Hundreds of protesters -including minors- have been detained by the Egyptian authorities during those demonstrations, in addition to journalists, lawyers, and members of opposition political parties, in which constitutes a new wave of repression of civil society.

The Observatory expresses its utmost concerns over the arbitrary arrest and enforced disappearance of Ms. Mahienour El-Massry and urges the Egyptian authorities to immediately disclose her whereabouts and allow her full access to her lawyer and family.

The Observatory recalls that Ms. Mahienour El-Massry has already been tried and jailed twice for taking part in anti-government protests: the first time in January 2014 over charges of “protest without a permit” and “assaulting security forces” [1], and a second in December 2017 [2] on charges related to protests held against the Tiran and Sanafeer land agreement in June 2016 [3], which had resulted in the arrest of 60 activists throughout the country [4]. She received the Ludovic Trarieux Award, an international prize given annually to a lawyer for his contributions to human rights, while in prison in 2014.

The Observatory further urges the Egyptian authorities to release Ms. Mahienour El-Massry 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. Mahienour El-Massry, in all circumstances, as well as that of all human rights defenders in Egypt;

ii. Immediately disclose Ms. Mahienour El-Massry’s place of detention and release her immediately and unconditionally: her detention is arbitrary since it only seems to aim at punishing her for her human rights activities;

iii. Guarantee the unhindered access of Ms. Mahienour El-Massry 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. Mahienour El-Massry, 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 23, 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 the Observatory’s Urgent Appeal EGY 001 / 0514 / OBS 045, published on May 22, 2014.
[2] See the Observatory’s Urgent Appeal EGY 006 / 1217 / OBS 120.1, published on January 10, 2018.
[3] The Egyptian House of Representatives voted on June 14, 2017, to ratify a maritime agreement that would place the islands of Tiran and Sanafeer under Saudi control. In the wake of the Parliament’s decision, protests erupted throughout several governorates of the country. On June 20, 2017, Egypt’s highest constitutional court ruled against the transfer agreement.
[4] See the Observatory’s Urgent Appeals EGY 001 / 0617 / OBS 066 published on June 20, 2017 and EGY 002 / 0617 / OBS 070 published on June 26, 2017.

Read more