Egypt: Enforced disappearance of Mr. Mohamed El-Baqer and Mr. Alaa Abdel Fattah

30/09/2019
Urgent Appeal

EGY 004 / 0919 / OBS 075
Arbitrary arrest /
Enforced disappearance /
Judicial harassment
Egypt
September 30, 2019

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a partnership of the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) and FIDH, 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 Mr. Mohamed El-Baqer, a human rights lawyer and Director of Adalah Center for Rights and Freedoms, and Mr. Alaa Abdel Fattah, a blogger and member of the “No to Military Trials for Civilians” movement [1].

According to the information received, on September 29, 2019, Mr. Mohamed El-Baqerwas arrested at the State Security Prosecution premises while he was attending an investigation session with his client Mr. Alaa Abdel Fattah, who had been arrested earlier in the morning of that same day in his probation cell at the Dokki police station, where he spends his daily 12 hours police monitoring. The Observatory recalls that on March 29, 2019 Mr. Alaa Abdel Fattah was released under probation from Cairo’s Tora prison, at the term of his five-year sentence. As part of his probation, he must spend every night at the Dokki police station [2].

Messrs. Mohamed El-Baker and Alaa Abdel Fattah were subsequently accused under Criminal Case 1356 of 2019 by State Security Prosecution on charges of “belonging to a terrorist group”, “funding a terrorist group”, “spreading false news undermining national security” and “using social media to commit publishing offenses”, and were given 15 days of preventive detention pending investigation. Since then, their place of detention has remained unknown.

The arrest of Messrs. Mohamed El-Baqer and Alaa Abdel Fattah come in the midst of a massive arrest campaign following demonstrations that called for President al-Sisi to step downfollowing allegations of corruption and waste of public funds made against his family and a number of army leaders. At least 2,200 people have been arrested since September 20, 2019 in response to the protests, according to latest reports. On September 27, 2019, the United Nations (UN) High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet expressed “serious concerns about reports of lack of due process following wide-spread arrests linked to the protests in Egypt, and urged the authorities to respect the right to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly in full compliance with international norms and standards”. Other human rights defenders have also been arrested and are deemed to be forcibly disappeared, including human rights lawyer Mahienour El-Massry, who was arbitrarily arrested on September 22, 2019 [3].

The Observatory expresses its utmost concerns over the arbitrary arrest and enforced disappearance of Messrs. Mohamed El-Baqer and Alaa Abdel Fattah and urges the Egyptian authorities to immediately disclose their place of detention and allow their unhindered access to their lawyer and family.

The Observatory further urges the Egyptian authorities to release Messrs. Mohamed El-Baqer and Alaa Abdel Fattah immediately and unconditionally and to put an end to all forms of harassment against them, including at the judicial level, as well as against all human rights defenders in Egypt.

Actions requested:

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

i. Guarantee in all circumstances the physical integrity and psychological well-being of Messrs. Mohamed El-Baqer and Alaa Abdel Fattah, as well as that of all human rights defenders in Egypt;

ii. Immediately disclose Messrs. Mohamed El-Baqer and Alaa Abdel Fattah’s place of detention and release them immediately and unconditionally as their detention is arbitrary since it only seems to aim at punishing them for their human rights activities;

iii. Guarantee the unhindered access of Messrs. Mohamed El-Baqer and Alaa Abdel Fattah to a lawyer of their choice and their family members;

iv. Put an end to all acts of harassment, including at the judicial level, against Messrs. Mohamed El-Baqer and Alaa Abdel Fattah, 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.

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 

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, 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 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. OMCT and FIDH 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] This movement was set up in 2011 and denounced human rights abuses committed in particular by security forces and the army during the rule of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) after the fall of former President Mubarak.
[2] See Observatory Urgent Appeal EGY 002 / 1113 / OBS 095.8, published on March 29, 2019.
[3] See Observatory Urgent Appeal EGY 003 / 0919 / OBS 074, published on September 23, 2019.

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