Egypt: Arbitrary detention, torture and judicial harassment of Mr. Patrick George Zaki

Urgent Appeal
Courtesy of EIPR

EGY 001 / 0220 / OBS 012
Arbitrary detention / Torture /
Judicial harassment
February 10, 2020

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 the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR) about the arbitrary detention, torture and judicial harassment of Mr. Patrick George Zaki, a postgraduate student at Bologna University (Italy) and a Gender and Human Rights researcher at the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR) .

According to the information received, in the early morning of February 7, 2020, Mr. Patrick George Zaki was arrested at Cairo airport upon his arrival from Italy, where he has been a postgraduate student since August 2019. He was taken into the custody of Egypt’s National Security Investigations (NSI) at the airport and was held incommunicado for the following 24 hours.

Afterwards, it was established that during these 24 hours, Mr. Patrick George Zaki was sent to an NSI facility in Cairo where he was further questioned about his work and activism before being transferred to NSI offices in Mansoura. According to his lawyers, with whom he could meet on February 8, Mr. Patrick George Zaki was beaten, subjected to electric shocks and threatened during this time.

On February 8, 2020, Mr. Patrick George Zaki was taken to the Prosecutor’s office in Mansoura (about 120 kilometres northeast of Cairo) to be questioned about his work and activism. He was presented with a police report which falsely stated that he was arrested at a chekpoint in Mansoura, pursuant to an outstanding warrant issued in September 2019. Following this questioning, the Prosecution ordered his remaining in detention for 15 days pending further investigations.

Mr. Patrick George Zaki is being charged with “publishing rumours and false news that aim to disturb social peace and sow chaos” (article 102 bis of the Criminal Code), “incitement to protest without permission from the relevant authorities with the aim of undermining state authority” (article 18 of the Protest law), “calling for the overthrow of the state” (article 87 of the Criminal Code), “managing a social media account that aims to undermine the social order and public safety” (article 27 of Cybercrime law) and “incitement to commit violence and terrorist crimes (article 28 of the Anti-Terrorism law)”. These charges, which are widely used against peaceful political activists, journalists, and rights defenders, can result in at least 13 years in prison.

The Observatory recalls that the arbitrary detention of Mr. Patrick George Zaki comes amid renewed crackdown on human rights defenders, activists, journalists and civil society in Egypt, that arose since the outbreak of popular movement across the country on September 20, 2019, protesting against President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi . The Observatory also recall that since October 2019, as part of the random stop, search, and arrest campaign the security agencies carried out mainly in downtown Cairo, that target individuals perceived to be politically active in anyway, six EIPR staff members have been temporarily detained and questioned, including for a period of two days in one case.

The Observatory condemns the arbitrary detention and judicial harassment of Mr. Patrick George Zaki, which seem to be only aimed at punishing him for his legitimate human rights activities. The Observatory urges the Egyptian authorities to immediately and unconditionally release Mr. Patrick George Zaki, and to put an end to any act of harassment, including at the judicial level, against him and all the human rights defenders in Egypt.

Actions requested:

Please write to the authorities of Egypt asking them to:

i. Guarantee, in all circumstances, the physical integrity and psychological well-being of Mr. Patrick George Zaki as well as of all human rights defenders in Egypt;

ii. Immediately and unconditionally release Mr. Patrick George Zaki and all the human rights defenders arbitrarily detained in Egypt, as their detention is arbitrary since it only seems to aim at punishing them for their human rights activities;

iii. Carry out a transparent, impartial, immediate and thorough investigation into the above-mentioned allegations of torture in order to identify all those responsible, bring them before an independent tribunal, and sanction them as provided by the law;

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

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; and

vi. 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.


• 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, February 10, 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 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

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