Egypt: Ongoing arbitrary detention and judicial harassment of Asmaa Dabees and her family members

04/10/2019
Urgent Appeal

New information
EGY 005 / 0919 / OBS 076.1
Arbitrary detention /
Judicial harassment
Egypt
October 4, 2019

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a partnership of FIDH and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), 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 arbitrary detention and judicial harassment of Ms. Asmaa Dabees, Mr. Mohamed Helmy Hamdoun, her husband, and Mr. Ahmad Helmy Hamdoun, her brother-in-law. Ms. Asmaa Dabees is one of the leaders of the Egyptian feminist movement and 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. She is also a member of the Regional Coalition for Women Human Rights Defenders in the Middle East and North Africa (WHRD-MENA Coalition). Mr. Mohamed Helmy is a lawyer who has recently been active in representing people arrested during the recent anti-Sisi demonstrations.

According to the information received, on October 1, 2019, Ms. Asmaa Dabees and her family members appeared in Zeinohom Court after five days of enforced disappearance (see background information). At the end of interrogations, State Security Prosecution ordered a 15-day pre-trial detention against the three of them under Case 1338/2019. On the same day, Ms. Dabees and her family members were transferred to the security forces camp in Damanhour, which is a camp for men only. Hence, Ms. Dabees should be detained alone, but as the camp is not a prison and no other details are available on the camp’s facilities, there are concerns regarding her conditions of detention.

The Observatory recalls that since the outbreak of popular protests across the country on September 20, 2019, calling on President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi to resign, at least two thousands of people - including minors - have been detained by the Egyptian authorities, including protesters, journalists, lawyers, and members of opposition political parties, amid a new wave of repression of the Egyptian people. Other human rights defenders have also been arrested, including human rights lawyer Mahienour El-Massry, who was arrested on September 22, 2019 [1], the blogger Alaa Abdel Fattah and his lawyer, Mohamed El-Baqer [2].

The Observatory expresses its utmost concern over the ongoing arbitrary detention and judicial harassment of Ms. Asmaa Dabees and her family members, and urges the Egyptian authorities to immediately and unconditionally release them, as their detention seems to be only aimed at sanctioning them for their legitimate human rights activities, and to put an end to any act of harassment, including at the judicial level, against them and all the human rights defenders in Egypt.

Background information:

On September 26, 2019, police officers in civilian clothes arrested Ms. Asmaa Dabees, her husband, Mr. Mohamed Helmy Hamdoun, and her brother-in-law, in a cafe in Damanhour city (Nile Delta). The police officers handcuffed and blindfolded Ms. Asmaa Dabees and her family members before taking them in the police car. Ms. Asmaa Dabees, her husband and her brother-in-law’s whereabouts remained unknown and no information was provided regarding potential charges against them until October 1, 2019.

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

i. Guarantee the physical integrity and psychological well-being of Ms. Asmaa Dabees, Mr. Mohamed Helmy Hamdoun and Mr. Ahmad Helmy Hamdoun, in all circumstances, as well as that of all human rights defenders in Egypt, including those defending the rights of protesters;

ii. Immediately and unconditionally release Ms. Asmaa Dabees, Mr. Mohamed Helmy Hamdoun and Mr. Ahmad Helmy Hamdoun as their detention is arbitrary since it only seems to aim at punishing Ms. Asmaa Dabees and Mr. Mohamed Helmy for their human rights activities;

iii. Guarantee the unhindered access of Ms. Asmaa Dabees, Mr. Mohamed Helmy Hamdoun and Mr. Ahmad Helmy Hamdoun 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 Ms. Asmaa Dabees, Mr. Mohamed Helmy Hamdoun, Mr. Ahmad Helmy Hamdoun 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. 

***
Paris-Geneva, October 4, 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 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 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 Observatory Urgent Appeal EGY 003 / 0919 / OBS 074, published on September 23, 2019.
[2] See Observatory Urgent Appeal EGY 004 / 0919 / OBS 075, published on September 30, 2019.

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