Egypt: Death while in custody of Mr. Shady Habash

Urgent Appeal

EGY 004 / 0520 / OBS 051
Death while in custody
May 14, 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 reliable sources about the death while in custody of Mr. Shady Habash, film director, photographer and human rights defender.

According to the information received, on the night of May 1, 2020, Mr. Shady Habash, 24, was found dead in Tora prison (Cairo). His health reportedly deteriorated dramatically in the last days of his detention. He was momentarily hospitalised, then transferred back to the prison on the evening of May 1, 2020, where he died during the night. The prison guards were slow to intervene despite being alerted by his cellmates, who reportedly called out and shouted for help repeatedly throughout the hours preceding his death. At the time of the publication of this Urgent Appeal, the exact reasons of Mr. Habash death remained unknown.

Mr. Shady Habash had been arrested in March 2018, together with his colleague Mr. Mustafa Gamal, and charged with several accusations, including “membership of a terrorist group” (article 12 of the Counter-terrorism law of 2015), “spreading false news” (article 102 bis of the Egyptian Criminal Code), “blasphemy and contempt of religion” (article 98 F of the same Code) and “insulting the military” (article 184 of the same Code). The charges stemmed from the release of the videoclip they directed for the song “Balaha” by singer Mr. Ramy Essam, which mocked Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi by comparing him to a notorious liar and condemning alleged government corruption. The pair have been held in pre-trial detention pending investigation ever since their arrest. The author of the song, Mr. Galal el-Behairy, is also in jail and the singer Mr. Ramy Essam, who performed the song, is currently exiled in Sweden.

The Observatory deplores the death of Mr. Shady Habash while in custody and denounces the medical negligence he suffered within that framework. The Observatory further recalls that his detention was arbitrary, as it was only aimed at punishing him for his legitimate human rights activities and his exercise of freedom of expression.

Actions requested:

Please write to the authorities of Egypt asking them to:

i. Carry out a transparent, impartial, immediate and thorough investigation into the death of Mr. Shady Habash, in order to identify all those responsible, bring them before an independent tribunal, sanction them as provided by the law and provide Mr. Habash family with effective remedies; ensure Shady’s co-detainees are heard as witnesses and protected from undue pressure, during the investigation;

ii. Immediately and unconditionally release Messrs. Mustafa Gamal and Galal el-Behairy and put an end to any form of harassment, including at the judicial level, against them as well as against Mr. Ramy Essam and more generally against all human rights defenders in Egypt;

iii. Guarantee the physical and psychological well-being of all human rights defenders in Egypt in all circumstances;

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

v. Ensure respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in all circumstances, in accordance with international human rights standards and international instruments to which Egypt is a State party.


● 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 representations of Egypt in your respective countries.


Paris-Geneva, May 14, 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 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 (0) 1 43 55 25 18 / +33 1 43 55 18 80
● Tel and fax OMCT +41 (0) 22 809 49 39 / +41 22 809 49 29

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