Egypt: Ill-treatment of Alaa Abdel Fattah and Mohamed El-Baqer while in detention

Urgent Appeal

New information
EGY 004 / 0919 / OBS 075.2
Ill-treatment /
Arbitrary detention /
Judicial harassment
October 10, 2019

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

New information:

The Observatory has been informed by reliable sources about the ongoing detention, threats and acts of ill-treatment while in detention against Mr. Alaa Abdel Fattah, a blogger and member of the “No to Military Trials for Civilians” movement [1], and Mr. Mohamed El-Baqer, human rights lawyer and Director of Adalah Center for Rights and Freedoms,.

According to the information received, on October 9, 2019, Mr. Alaa Abdel Fattah was brought to the State Security Prosecution, where he reported that he was beaten during his arrest, then blindfolded as he was brought to Tora High Security Prison 2, forced to strip off all his clothes but his underwear, beaten up and verbally abused by soldiers as he walked through a corridor into the prison. He has since been subjected to further acts of beatings and threats throughout his detention. Moreover, before he was brought to the State Security Prosecution, he was specifically warned against speaking about his prison conditions. Yet at the end of the day Mr. Alaa Abdel Fattah was brought back to Tora High Security Prison 2 after his pre-trial detention order was renewed.

On October 9, 2019, Mr. Mohamed El-Baqer was also brought to the State Security Prosecution for questioning, where he similarly reported that during his transfer to Tora High Security Prison 2 on September 30, 2019, he was blindfolded and was made to walk bending while subjected to insults and humiliation. Upon arrival at the prison, he was deprived of all his belongings and dressed in prison uniform while blindfolded. Mr. Mohamed El-Baqer further stated that he had to wear the same underwear and without any personal hygiene items for nine days. He was not allowed to shower and was left to sleep on the floor, resulting in pains in his back and shoulders. He also contracted a skin infection, but when he asked to be examined by the prison doctor, his request was denied. While Mr. El-Baqer suffers from renal problems, he was denied access to clean drinking water or food from the prison canteen although his family had left money in his name in the prison safe, as is the rule in prisons. He had to drink the polluted prison water and consume food of extremely bad quality, in addition to lack of ventilation in his cell and denying him any time out of it. As a result Mr. El-Baqer requested to be transfer to another prison. On October 9, 2019, Mr. Mohamed El-Baqer’s detention was also renewed for another 15 days.

The Observatory recalls that Mr. Alaa Abdel Fattah was arrested on September 29, 2019. Shortly after, his lawyer Mr. Mohamed El-Baqer was in turn arrested (see background information). Both 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. Their place of detention remained unknown until October 1, when the prison authorities informed their families that they were detained in Tora High Security prison 2, where conditions of detention are very strict, and detainees are held in solitary confinement and are not allowed to receive any visit.

The Observatory expresses its utmost concern over the above-mentioned acts of ill-treatment against Messrs. Mohamed El-Baqer and Mr. Alaa Abdel Fattah while in detention, which is contrary to Egypt’s obligations under the United Nations Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.

The Observatory is further concerned by the ongoing arbitrary detention of Messrs. Mohamed El-Baqer and Alaa Abdel Fattah and urges the Egyptian authorities to release them 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.

Background information:

On September 29, 2019, Mr. Mohamed El-Baqer was 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 was spending 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 was required to spend every night at the Dokki police station [2].

On September 30, 2019, Messrs. Mohamed El-Baqer and Alaa Abdel Fattah were transferred to Tora High Security prison 2.

The arrest of Messrs. Mohamed El-Baqer and Alaa Abdel Fattah came in the midst of a massive arrest campaign following demonstrations that called for President al-Sisi to step down following 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 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, including human rights lawyer Mahienour El-Massry and Ms. Asmaa Dabees, 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, who were respectively arbitrarily arrested on September 22 and September 26, 2019 [3].

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. Alaa Abdel Fattah and Mohamed El-Baqer, as well as that of all human rights defenders in Egypt;

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

iii. Conduct an immediate, thorough and independent investigation into the above-mentioned allegations of ill-treatment against Messrs. Mohamed El-Baqer and Alaa Abdel Fattah, in order to identify all those responsible, bring them before an independent tribunal, and sanction them as provided by the law;

iv. Ensure Messrs. Mohamed El-Baqer and Alaa Abdel Fattah an access to adequate medical care;

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

vi. 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;

vii. 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.;

viii. 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. 

Geneva-Paris, October 10, 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, 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 OMCT +41 (0) 22 809 49 39 / +41 22 809 49 29
• Tel and fax FIDH +33 (0) 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 Appeals EGY 003 / 0919 / OBS 074 and EGY 005 / 0919 / OBS 076, published on September 23 and 30, 2019.

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