Egypt: Arrest of Mr. Alaa Abdel Fatah

29/11/2013
Urgent Appeal

URGENT APPEAL - THE OBSERVATORY

EGY 002 / 1113 / OBS 095
Arbitrary arrest and detention /
Ill-treatments
Egypt
November 29, 2013

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a joint programme of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), requests your urgent intervention on the following situation in Egypt.

Description of the situation:

The Observatory has been informed by reliable sources about the arrest of Mr. Alaa Abdel Fatah, a civil and political rights activist, blogger and a member of the “No to Military Trials for Civilians” group.

According to the information received, on November 28, 2013, security operatives raided Mr. Abdel Fatah’s residence. Although they produced no search warrant, they searched the premises and carted away computers and telephones. When challenged for not being authorised to conduct a search, they beat Mr. Abdel Fatah and his wife up while their two year-old son slept in the next room.

Mr. Abdel Fatah was then arrested upon the basis of a warrant of arrest issued by Egyptian authorities in relation to the call for protests by the “No to Military Trials for Civilians” group, which was protesting Article 198 of the draft constitution that allows for civilian trials before military courts. He is being accused of incitement and organisation of the protest and is reportedly being held at Central Security Forces barracks on the Cairo-Alexandria desert road and would have appeared on November 29 at Cairo Security Directorate where his investigation has begun.

The Observatory recalls that on November 26, 2013 at least nine members of the “No to Military Trials for Civilians” group, nine journalists and seven lawyers were arrested by police forces in Cairo, as they were demonstrating near Tahrir Square [1]. In an effort to pressure the members of the Constitutional Committee to vote against Article 198, the “No to Military Trials for Civilians” group had called for protests to be held on November 26, ahead of the vote, in front of the Shura Council (where the committee holds its meetings). Tens protesters joined the call at 4pm on Kasr Al Aini street, however thirty minutes later, security forces issued a warning to the protesters to immediately end their protest, which reportedly remained peaceful. The protesters refused to leave and security forces opened water canons against them. Security forces and policemen in plain cloth simultaneously arrested protesters and journalists. Video footage circulating on-line, and authenticated, shows the police beating the protesters and sexually harassing both men and women [2].

The Observatory recalls that Mr. Abdel Fatah has been repeatedly persecuted by successive regimes in Egypt for his human rights activism. In 2011, he was jailed for almost two months by the Mubarak Government and then by the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces [3]. Similarly, in 2013, the Morsi Government trumped up charges against him for allegedly “inciting violence against the Brotherhood” for involvement in setting fire to former presidential candidate Ahmed Shafiq’s campaign headquarters.

The Observatory condemns the unnecessary violent raid of Mr. Abdel Fatah’s home, especially since he had publicly committed to turning himself in the weekend. The Observatory also expresses its deep concern about the arbitrariness of his arrest and detention, which it considers an attempt to prevent his legitimate and peaceful human rights activities, and calls upon the Egyptian authorities to release him immediately and unconditionally as his detention is arbitrary.

Actions requested:

Please write to the authorities of Egypt asking them to:

i. Guarantee in all circumstances the physical and psychological integrity of Mr. Abdel Fatah and all human rights defenders in Egypt;

ii. Release Mr. Abdel Fatah and all human rights defenders currently in detention immediately and unconditionally since their detention is arbitrary as it seems to only aim at curtailing their human rights activities;

iii. Put an end to all acts of harassment, including at the judicial level, against Mr. Abdel Fatah and all human rights defenders in Egypt;

iv. Comply with all the provisions of the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, in particular with:
- its Article 1, which provides that “everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, to promote and to strive for the protection and realization of human rights and fundamental freedoms at the national and international levels”;
- its Article 6 (a) and (b), which provides that “everyone has the right, individually and in association with others: To know, seek, obtain, receive and hold information about all human rights and fundamental freedoms, including having access to information as to how those rights and freedoms are given effect in domestic legislative, judicial or administrative systems; and a provided for in human rights and other applicable international instruments, freely to publish, impart or disseminate to others views, information and knowledge on all human rights and fundamental freedoms”;

v. Ensure in all circumstances respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in accordance with international human rights standards and international instruments ratified by Egypt.

Addresses:

· President of the Arab Republic of Egypt, His Excellency Adly Mansour, Abedine Palace, Cairo, Egypt, E-mail: webmaster@presidency.gov.eg, Fax: +202 23901998
· Prime Minister Mr. Hazem El Biblawi, Magles El Shaab Street, Kasr El Aini Street, Cairo, Egypt. Fax: + 202 2735 6449 / 27958016. Email: primemin@idsc.gov.eg
· Minister of the Interior, General Mohamed Ibrahim, Ministry of the Interior, El-Sheikh Rihan Street, Bab al-Louk, Cairo, Egypt, E-mail: moi1@idsc.gov.eg, Fax: +202 2579 2031 / 2794 5529
· Minister of Justice, Mr. Adel Abdel Hamid, Ministry of Justice, Magles El Saeb Street, Wezaret Al Adl, Cairo, Egypt, E-mail: mojeb@idsc.gov.eg, Fax: +202 2795 8103
· Public Prosecutor, Counsellor Hisham Barakat Dar al-Qadha al-Ali, Ramses Street, Cairo, Egypt, Fax: +202 2577 4716
· National Council For Human Rights, Fax: + 202 25747497 / 25747670
· Permanent Mission of Egypt to the United Nations in Geneva, 49 avenue Blanc, 1202 Genève, Switzerland, Email: mission.egypt@ties.itu.int, Fax: +41 22 738 44 15
· Embassy of Egypt in Brussels, 19 avenue de l’Uruguay, 1000 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.

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