Egypt: Torture and ongoing arbitrary detention of Mr. Ibrahim Metwally Hegazy

22/09/2017
Urgent Appeal

New information
EGY 003 / 0917 / OBS 099.1
Arbitrary detention /
Torture and ill-treatment
Egypt
September 22, 2017

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 torture and ongoing arbitrary detention of Mr. Ibrahim Metwally Hegazy, human rights lawyer, Co-founder and Coordinator of the Association of the Families of the Disappeared in Egypt [1]. Mr. Ibrahim Metwally Hegazy reportedly also provided legal advice to Giulio Regeni’s family [2].

According to the information received, on September 20, 2017, Egypt’s High State Security Prosecution renewed the preventive detention of Mr. Ibrahim Metwally Hegazy for 15 days pending investigation. Mr. Ibrahim Metwally Hegazy is being 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”.

He is currently detained at the ‘Scorpion’ (Al-Aqrab) high security wing of Tora prison complex, in solitary confinement, in a cell with refuse and no electricity. He is being denied access to his lawyers and family.

In addition, during the detention renewal hearing, 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.

Mr. Ibrahim Metwally Hegazy has been detained since September 10, 2017, when he was forcibly disappeared at Cairo International Airport before boarding a flight to Geneva as he was travelling in response to an invitation by the United Nations Working Group on Enforced and Involuntary Disappearances (WGEID). Mr. Ibrahim Metwally Hegazy was held incommunicado until September 12, 2017 (see background information).

The Observatory recalls that Mr. Ibrahim Metwally Hegazy is not the only member of the Association of the Families of the Disappeared who has been targeted by the Egyptian authorities [3] as 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 expresses its utmost concern over the ongoing arbitrary detention of Mr. Ibrahim Metwally Hegazy, and the torture and ill-treatment he has been suffering since he was detained, as they appeared to be linked to his human rights activities.

The Observatory is further concerned as ‘Scorpion’ (Al-Aqrab) high security wing of Tora prison complex, where Mr. Ibrahim Metwally Hegazy is being detained, is notorious for its terrible conditions [4], which puts him at risks of being further tortured.

Consequently, the Observatory urges the Egyptian authorities to guarantee, in all circumstances, his physical and psychological integrity and to promptly investigate the above-mentioned allegations of torture, as well as to immediately allow him access to his lawyer and family, release him and drop all the charges brought against him.

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 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 from that date until September 12, in the evening, when the Stop Enforced Disappearance Campaign reported he had been located in State Security Prosecution custody, in Al-Tagammo’ al-Khamis on the outskirts of Cairo. He was interrogated by the State Security Prosecution (SSP) for charges of communicating with foreign entities to harm state security, spreading false news and forming and managing a group that was formed against the law and the constitution. During his interrogation, 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.

Actions requested:

Please write to the authorities of Egypt asking them to:

i. Guarantee, in all circumstances, the physical and psychological integrity of Mr. Ibrahim Metwally Hegazy;

ii. Immediately and unconditionally release Mr. Ibrahim Metwally Hegazy as well as all human rights defenders detained in Egypt;

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, and all members of the Association of the Families of the Disappeared as well as against all human rights defenders in Egypt;

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 Articles 1, 6(c) 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. Sherif Ismail. Fax: + 202 2735 6449 / 27958016.
· Minister of the Interior, Mr. Magdi Abdel-Ghaffar, Fax: +202 2579 2031 / 2794 5529
· Minister of Justice, Mohamed Hossam Abdel-Rahim, Fax: +202 2795 8103
· Minister of Social Solidarity, Ghada Waly, Fax: +202 3337 5390
· Public Prosecutor, Counsellor Nabeel Sadek, Fax: +202 2577 4716
· Mr. Mohamed Fayeq, President of the National Council For Human Rights, Fax: + 202 25747497 / 25747670. Email: nchr@nchr.org.eg
· H.E. Mr. Amr Ramadan, Ambassador, Permanent Mission of Egypt to the United Nations in Geneva, Email: mission.egypt@ties.itu.int, Fax: +41 22 738 44 15
· Embassy of Egypt in Brussels, 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, September 22, 2017

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

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