Egypt: Free Ahmed Douma!

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13 December 2022. Egyptian activist Ahmed Douma entered his 10th year in arbitrary detention on 3 December 2022. In spite of his resilience, shared in his poetry, his health has not ceased to deteriorate from all the mistreatment he endured and endures still. The undersigned individuals, groups and organisations urge the Egyptian authorities to immediately release Ahmed Douma and all those arbitrarily detained in Egypt.

Ahmed Douma is an Egyptian poet, writer and activist targeted due to his political activism and leading role in the 25 January 2011 revolution, as well as his vocal criticism of successive Egyptian governments. Over his prolonged years in prison and through severe restrictions, Ahmed Douma has kept writing about his experiences, dreams and aspirations. His poetry collection “Curly” was printed and published during the 2021 Cairo International Book Fair, but it was not long before security officials forced the publishing house to withdraw it.

A documented story of mistreatment and abuse with terrible consequences.

Security forces first arrested Douma, then aged 25, on 12 January 2012 in relation to his participation in the “Cabinet Offices” sit-in. He was released after three months, but re-arrested on 3 December 2013 amid a wave of arrests after enactment of the draconian protest law (Law No. 107/2013) restricting the right to peaceful assembly. Throughout his detention, Ahmed Douma has been subjected to torture and other ill-treatment, including deliberate denial of access to medical care, and solitary confinement for prolonged periods of time -for four years and eight months in total between December 2013 until January 2020. Ahmed Douma suffers from severe pain in different parts of his body as a result of being confined to his cell for more than 22 hours a day in poor prison conditions. He has knee and back pain resulting from the lack of movement and the failure to provide him with a bed, and sometimes even a mattress, in his solitary confinement cell. He also suffers from high blood pressure, insomnia, constant headaches, severe depression, and panic attacks. 

In February 2015, he was convicted and sentenced to 15 years’ imprisonment in relation to his participation in anti-government protests following a grossly unfair and politically motivated trial intended to punish him for his activism. In July 2020, the Court of Cassation, Egypt’s highest court, upheld his conviction and sentence. As a result, the only avenue for him to be released is through a presidential pardon. On 26 April 2022, the Egyptian President announced “reactivating the work of the Presidential Pardon Committee”.

Ahmed Douma’s family has submitted several requests for a presidential pardon, and have again renewed their call on the Egyptian President to reconsider the case, in particular in light of his deteriorating mental and physical health. However, the Pardon Committee has not announced that it was considering Douma’s case to date.

Ahmed Douma is arbitrarily detained in Egypt for exercising his most basic human rights.

In 2015, the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (UNWGAD) found that Ahmed Douma’s detention was arbitrary as it stemmed solely from his peaceful exercise of his human rights, and followed criminal proceedings that failed to meet fair trial standards. The UNWGAD called for his immediate release and an enforceable right to remedy. The Egyptian authorities have disregarded these calls. 

Most recently, on 24 November 2022, the European Parliament urged the Egyptian authorities to immediately release those unjustly detained in Egypt including Douma. Ahead of COP27, more than 1400 organisations, groups and individuals, including parliamentarians, from across the world called on the Egyptian authorities to immediately and unconditionally release all those held simply for exercising their human rights, and for the implementation of criteria set by local NGOs for these releases, namely fairness, transparency, inclusiveness, and urgency. 

The undersigned organisations reiterate these calls and urge Egypt to implement them without delay.

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