Egypt: Arbitrary Detention and Ill-treatment of Political Opponents

On 11 December 2014, Alkarama sent a communication to the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (WGAD) regarding the cases of five Egyptian citizens currently detained for their political views, Hudhayfah Magdy Abdel Moneim Abdel Fattah; Hossam Zaki Mohammed Mohammed; Ahmed Mahmoud Ahmed Hassan; Mahmoud Mohamed Mohamed Al Saghir; Mohamed Ahmed; and Mohamed Ibrahim. Several months after their arrest, they all remain to be tried, and are held in particularly harsh conditions in the Tora and Burj Al Arab prisons.

Because of the arbitrary nature of their detention, Alkarama seized the WGAD to call upon the Egyptian authorities to release them and to open an investigation into their allegations of torture and other ill-treatment.

The five men have been victims of violence during their warrantless arrest by the security forces between September 2013 and May 2014. Their names are added to the long list of victims of the political repression carried out by the authorities, which has been repeatedly denounced by Alkarama, the United Nations and its Member States for over a year now. Like many victims of arbitrary arrests in Egypt, they were conducted to the security services' premises where they were held incommunicado for several days and subjected to ill-treatment and, for some of them, even to severe torture. The men report having been beaten with iron bars, electrocuted, deprived of sleep and held in appalling conditions, with the sole purpose of terrorising and punishing them for their political affiliations.

All were charged with belonging to the Muslim Brotherhood – though not all of them are affiliated with this political movement – and for events allegedly related to the violent dispersal of peaceful demonstrations, even though no material evidence of their implications was presented by the prosecutor during their multiple hearings. Their lawyers even challenged the lawfulness of their detention, but their initiatives were never considered by the judges. Instead, they saw their detention constantly renewed, without reason, and sometimes in absentia. Moreover, they do not know when their respective trials will be held and are never assured to receive their families' visit, which are left to the total discretion of the prison administration.

Alkarama is concerned about the fate of all political prisoners in Egypt, due to the obvious lack of legal guarantees granted to them, and to the ill-treatment to they are regularly subjected to. This reflects the country's slide towards a repressive regime, in which the recurring human rights violations tend to be trivialised and the impunity of their perpetrators institutionalised.

Thus, Alkarama calls again on the international community and civil society organisations to condemn the behaviour of the Egyptian authorities and to take appropriate measures and actions to end the impunity enjoyed by the perpetrators of such violations. It is also important that the United Nations secures guarantees for the protecting of rights by the Egyptian authorities in view of the forthcoming opening of an UN High Commissioner regional office in Cairo.

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