Egypt: Ongoing arbitrary detention of Ibrahim Metwally Hegazy

08/11/2019
Urgent Appeal

New information
EGY 003 / 0917 / OBS 099.2
Arbitrary detention /
Judicial harassment
Egypt
November 8, 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 arbitrary detention of Mr. Ibrahim Metwally Hegazy, co-founder of the Association of Families of the Disappeared [1] and a human rights lawyer who represents families of victims of enforced disappearances.

According to the information received, on November 5, 2019, Mr. Ibrahim Metwally Hegazy appeared in front of the State Security Prosecution and was accused in a new case of “belonging to a terrorist group” and “funding a terrorist group” in State Security Case 1470/2019. The State Security Prosecution further ordered his pre-trial detention for 15 days.

The Observatory recalls that Mr. Ibrahim Metwally Hegazy has been detained since September 10, 2017 (see background information). After two years of preventive detention in inhumane conditions, he had finally been ordered release on October 14, 2019 in State Security Case 900/2017, on the same charges. Yet he remained detained until he was accused in Case 1470/2019 on November 5, which seems to be a way to circumvent the two-year maximum on pre-trial detention prescribed by Egyptian law.

The Observatory expresses its utmost concern over the ongoing arbitrary detention and judicial harassment of Mr. Ibrahim Metwally Hegazy, as it appears to be linked to his human rights activities. The Observatory further recalls that arbitrary detentions and enforced disappearances have become common practice in Egypt over the past few years targeting dissenting voices, including human rights defenders.

The Observatory urges the Egyptian authorities to guarantee, in all circumstances, the physical integrity and psychological well-being of Mr. Ibrahim Metwally Hegazy, to release him immediately and unconditionally, and to put an end to all forms of harassment, including at the judicial level, against him and all human rights defenders in Egypt.

Background information:  

On September 10, 2017, Mr. Metwally Hegazy disappeared at Cairo International Airport before boarding a flight to Geneva. Mr. Metwally Hegazy was travelling to Switzerland in response to an invitation by the United Nations (UN) Working Group on Enforced Disappearances (WGEID) to attend the proceedings of its 113th Session, held from September 11 to 15, 2017 at the UN Human Rights Council.
 
His family lost contact with him around 8 am after he had arrived at the airport, texting that he “was heading to the security [forces’] office” which is near passport control. They subsequently contacted the authorities at the Geneva airport who communicated that the latter had not arrived on the flight from Cairo, leading them to believe that he had been arrested at Cairo International Airport. The lawyers of Mr. Metwally Hegazy contacted the airport police and looked for him in nearby police stations but they were not able to obtain any information on his whereabouts. They subsequently sent a telegram to the Prosecutor General’s Office to report the suspected arrest.
 
The whereabouts of Mr. Metwally Hegazy remained unknown until September 12, in the evening, when the Stop Enforced Disappearance Campaign reported he had been located in State Security Prosecution (SSP) custody, in Al-Tagammo’ al-Khamis on the outskirts of Cairo. During his interrogation by the SSP, his home was searched by security forces. The official invitation made by the WGEID and Mr. Hegazy’s passport were confiscated as evidence in the criminal case No. 900/2017 opened against him. The SSP ordered the detention of Mr. Ibrahim Metwally Hegazy for 15 days pending investigation, and sent him to the high security wing of Tora prison complex.

On September 20, 2017, the High State Security Prosecution renewed the preventive detention of Mr. Ibrahim Metwally Hegazy for 15 days pending investigation. Mr. Ibrahim Metwally Hegazy was suspected of “founding and leading an organisation that was created illegally” (i.e. the Association of Families of the Disappeared), “spreading false news” and “communicating with foreign entities in order to undermine national security”.
 
In addition, Mr. Ibrahim Metwally Hegazy reported to his lawyers that during his enforced disappearance at State Security premises between September 10 and 12, 2017, he was tortured, including by electrocution.
 
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. Ibrahim Metwally Hegazy;
 
ii. Immediately and unconditionally release Mr. Ibrahim Metwally Hegazy as well as all human rights defenders detained in Egypt as their detention is arbitrary since it only seems to aim at punishing them for their human rights activities;
 
iii. In the meantime, ensure that Mr. Ibrahim Metwally Hegazy has full and unhindered access to his family and lawyers and guarantee his right to due process and fair trial;
 
iv. Order an immediate, thorough, transparent, effective and impartial investigation into the above-mentioned allegations of torture of Mr. Ibrahim Metwally Hegazy in order to identify all those responsible, bring them before an independent tribunal and apply the sanctions provided by the law to them;
 
v. Put an end to all acts of harassment, including at the judicial level, against Mr. Ibrahim Metwally Hegazy, as well as against all human rights defenders in Egypt, and ensure that they are able to carry out their activities without hindrance;
 
vi. 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
 
vii. 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.

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, November 8, 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] The organisation aims to determine the fate and whereabouts of "disappeared" family members. Mr. Metwally Hegazy became an active human rights defender working on the issue of enforced disappearances after the disappearance of his son Amr Ibrahim Metwally, who was forcibly disappeared on July 8, 2013 and is still missing. Mr. Ibrahim Metwally Hegazy reportedly also provided legal advice to Giulio Regeni’s family. Giulio Regeni was an Italian graduate who was abducted and tortured to death in Egypt. See OMCT Press Release, “A year after Regeni’s death, still no justice or steps to end torture in Egypt”, issued on January 25, 2017.

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