Egypt: UN body petitioned over the arbitrary detention of Egyptian rights defender Alaa Abdel Fattah

Aboodi Vesakaran via Unsplash

In a joint letter, 34 freedom of expression and human rights organisations alert the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (UNWGAD) to the case of Alaa Abdel Fattah, a British-Egyptian writer and activist whose case was recently submitted to the UNWGAD, arguing that his continued imprisonment in Egypt is not only arbitrary but also in flagrant violation of international law.

Dear Members of the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention,

We, the undersigned 34 freedom of expression and human rights organisations, are writing regarding the recent submission to the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (UNWGAD) filed on behalf of the award-winning writer and activist Alaa Abdel Fattah, a British-Egyptian citizen.

On 14 November 2023, Alaa Abdel Fattah and his family filed an urgent appeal with the UNWGAD, submitting that his continuing detention in Egypt is arbitrary and contrary to international law. Alaa Abd El-Fattah and his family are represented by an International Counsel team led by English barrister Can Yeğinsu.

Alaa Abdel Fattah has spent much of the past decade imprisoned in Egypt on charges related to his writing and activism and remains arbitrarily detained in Wadi al-Natrun prison and denied consular visits. He is a key case of concern to our organisations.

Around this time last year (11 November 2022), UN Experts in the Special Procedures of the UN Human Rights Council joined the growing chorus of human rights voices demanding Abdel Fattah’s immediate release.

We, the undersigned organisations, are writing in support of the recent UNWGAD submission and to urge the Working Group to consider and announce their opinion on Abdel Fattah’s case at the earliest opportunity.

Yours sincerely,

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  • Co-signatories

    Brett Solomon, Executive Director, Access Now

    Ahmed Samih Farag, General Director, Andalus Institute for Tolerance and Anti-Violence Studies

    Quinn McKew, Executive Director, ARTICLE 19

    Bahey eldin Hassan, Director, Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies (CIHRS)

    Jodie Ginsberg, President, Committee to Protect Journalists

    Sayed Nasr, Executive Director, EgyptWide for Human Rights

    Ahmed Attalla, Executive Director, Egyptian Front for Human Rights

    Samar Elhusseiny, Programs Officer, Egyptian Human Rights Forum (EHRF)

    Jillian C. York, Director for International Freedom of Expression, Electronic Frontier Foundation

    Daniel Gorman, Director, English PEN

    Wadih Al Asmar, President, EuroMed Rights

    James Lynch, Co-Director, FairSquare

    Ruth Kronenburg, Executive Director, Free Press Unlimited

    Khalid Ibrahim, Executive Director, Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR)

    Adam Coogle, Deputy Middle East Director, Human Rights Watch

    Sarah Sheykhali, Executive Director, and Mostafa Fouad, Head of Programs, HuMENA for Human Rights and Civic Engagement

    Matt Redding, Head of Advocacy, IFEX

    Baroness Helena Kennedy KC, Director, International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute

    Alice Mogwe, President, International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), within the framework of the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders

    Shireen Al Khatib, Acting Director, The Palestinian Center For Development and Media Freedoms (MADA)

    Liesl Gerntholtz, Director, Freedom To Write Center, PEN America

    Grace Westcott, President, PEN Canada

    Romana Cacchioli, Executive Director, PEN International

    Tess McEnery, Executive Director, Project on Middle East Democracy (POMED)

    Antoine Bernard, Director of Advocacy and Assistance, Reporters Sans Frontières

    Ricky Monahan Brown, President, Scottish PEN

    Ahmed Salem, Executive Director, Sinai Foundation for Human Rights (SFHR)

    Mohamad Najem, Executive Director, SMEX

    Mazen Darwish, General Director, The Syrian Center for Media and Freedom of Expression (SCM)

    Mai El-Sadany, Executive Director, Tahrir Institute for Middle East Policy (TIMEP)

    Kamel Labidi, Board member, Vigilance for Democracy and the Civic State

    Aline Batarseh, Executive Director, Visualizing Impact

    Menna Elfyn, President, Wales PEN Cymru

    Miguel Martín Zumalacárregui, Head of the Europe Office, World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), within the framework of the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders

  • Member organisations - Egypt
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