Egypt: Abduction and arbitrary and incommunicado detention of Ibrahim Metwally Hegazy

13/09/2017
Urgent Appeal

EGY 003 / 0917 / OBS 099
Abduction /
Arbitrary and incommunicado detention
Egypt
September 13, 2017

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

Description of the situation:

The Observatory has been informed by reliable sources about the abduction and arbitrary and incommunicado 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[[Giulio Regeni was an Italian graduate who was abducted and tortured to death in Egypt.] .

According to the information received, 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 Working Group on Enforced and Involuntary 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 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 investigations, and sent him to the high security wing of Tora prison complex.

Mr. Metwally Hegazy is not the only member of the Association of the Families of the Disappeared who has been targeted by the Egyptian authorities. Fellow Co-founder Ms. Hanan Badr El-Din Othman, whose husband has been missing since 2013, was arrested on May 6, 2017 while visiting a detainee in Qanater Prison whom she hoped would have information about her husband’s whereabouts. She remains in detention since that date.

Mr. Islam Salameh, another lawyer who represents the forcibly disappeared families, was arrested by the security forces in March 2016. He was briefly held in incommunicado detention before being released in June 2016.

Mr. Ahmed Amasha, Co-founder of the League for Families of the Disappeared, has been detained since March 10, 2017 without trial or a formal indictment in Tora Prison in Cairo. He also disappeared during several days and was severely tortured.

The Observatory expresses its utmost concern over the abduction and arbitrary detention of Mr. Ibrahim Metwally Hegazy, as they appeared to be linked to his human rights activities, and consequently urges the Egyptian authorities to immediately allow him access to his lawyer and family, release him and drop all the charges brought against him.

The Observatory 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.

Actions requested:

Please write to the authorities of Egypt asking them to:

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

ii. Drop all charges against Mr. Ebrahim Hegazy as well as all human rights defenders in Egypt;

iii. 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;

iv. 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

v. 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.

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