We are sorry, this content is not available in this language.

Egypt: 18 Men and Women Disappeared, Tortured, and Accused of “Belonging to a Banned Group”

.

Alkarama recently brought to the attention of the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (WGAD) the case of 14 men and 4 women*, among whom young students, human rights defenders, political opponents, peaceful activists, filmmakers and journalists. They were all abducted by the State Security, severely tortured in order to sign self-incriminating statements and charged with “belonging to a banned group”. Their cases illustrate the pattern of systematic repression of all dissenting voices in Egypt under the pretext of terrorism by the State Security, whose forces are provided with broad discretionary power to arrest, interrogate and detain, without any judicial oversight.

Disappeared and tortured by the State Security in order to extract confessions

Arbitrarily arrested between August 2013 and March 2017, none of the 18 individuals were presented with an arrest warrant nor informed of the reasons for their arrest. The real reasons were either the divergence of their political views, their opposition to the government, belonging or supporting the Muslim Brotherhood, having expressed criticism on social media or simply having carried out their peaceful activities as human rights defenders or journalists. In most cases, arrests were merely justified by the “fight against terrorism” under the controversial 2015 Anti-Terrorism law.

Following their brutal arrests, all victims were taken to unknown locations where they were held in secret for prolonged periods. As their families and lawyers tried to inquire about them, the authorities kept on denying their arrest and detention. While completely cut out from the outside world, all 18 victims were subjected to severe torture by agents from the State Security to force them to sign self-incriminating statements. Particularly appalling methods of torture were used such as electrocution, including on the genitals, rape with a wooden stick and threats of rape against female relatives, waterboarding, cigarette burns and other body mutilations, suspension from the ceiling by the wrists, severe and prolonged beatings, as well as food and sleep deprivation.

The Egyptian authorities have systematically resorted to such practice, in complete impunity, in order to obtain confessions that are used as sole evidence against the victims in court. All claims of torture made by detainees are systematically ignored by judges and investigations never ordered.

Subjected to heavily flawed trials

All victims saw their fundamental right to a fair trial violated. While in some cases, they were charged over a year after their arrest, they were all denied access to a lawyer throughout their detention. As a result, not only they were unable to challenge the legality of their detention, but they were also interrogated without their counsel and could not prepare their defence during trial, including to challenge the statements they had made under torture.

Furthermore, two students aged 20 and 24 were brought before a military court where they were tried, without legal assistance, with one of them being sentenced to life imprisonment. The Egyptian authorities continue to try civilians before military jurisdictions, in violation of their fair trial rights set out in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Right (ICCPR) ratified in 1982.

Denied medical care and detained in poor conditions

All victims had their request for appropriate medical care systematically denied by the prison authorities, in violation of article 25 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. In Egypt, denial of medical care is often used as a form of punishment against those detained on political charges.

These individuals are also detained in appalling conditions. Families reported that their relatives were detained in overcrowded cells infested with insects, where they are at high risk of developing infectious diseases at a chronic and speedy rate due to the lack of preventive measures taken by the authorities. Sleeping conditions, as well as basic hygiene installations, are extremely poor; water does not run at a steady rate but only a few minutes a day while electricity cuts occur regularly.

Requests made to the UN experts

The case of these 14 men and 4 women were brought to the attention of the experts of the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention. Alkarama urged them to issue an Opinion as to the arbitrary nature of their detention and call upon their immediate release. The Egyptian authorities must be reminded that political opposition and peaceful activism should never be considered as acts of terrorism and that they must refrain from prosecuting individuals under the repressive 2015 Anti-Terrorism Law.

*The 18 victims are:

Victim

Age of the Victim

Profession

Situation

Ahmed Ahmed Hassan Mansour Bassiouni

19 years old

Student

Mr Bassiouni was minor when he was arrested on 1 January 2014. He was severely tortured and sentenced to two and five years of imprisonment in two cases following unfair trials before a court for adults. He is suffering from a condition requiring medical attention, which he has been denied from the outset of his detention. 

Assem Madgy Anour Adawy

25 years old

Student

Mr Adawy was abducted from home on 6 November 2016. He was secretly detained for 15 days, brutally interrogated and tortured for his activism on social media where he was criticising the authorities without incitement for violence or hatred. He is still awaiting for trial and has now been held in pretrial detention for more than nine months.

Ameen Mohamed Ameen Mashaly

38 years old

Civil Engineer

Mr Mashaly was arrested while traveling from Saudi Arabia to Egypt to visit his family on 5 September 2015. He was secretly detained for four months, severely tortured and is currently detained in inhuman conditions awaiting for his trial.

Omar Al Sayed Mohamed Al Sagheer

25 years old

Freelance worker

Mr Al Sagheer was abducted at home in the middle of the night on 6 November 2016 and held in secret for 15 days. He was brutally tortured while interrogated and still has not been officially charged after nine months of detention.

Ahmed Abdel Wahab Mohamed Abdel Wahab Al Khateeb

22 years old

Student

Mr Al Khateeb was abducted while visiting a friend on 28 October 2014. He was detained without charges for 17 months, held incommunicado and denied the right to family visits. He was sentenced to ten years imprisonment. In spite of his advanced stage of leukemia, the authorities have constantly denied him medical care.

Sherine Said Hamed Bekhit

34 years old

Freelance journalist and reporter

Mrs Bekhit was brutally arrested at home in the middle of the night, in front of her children, on 19 October 2016. She was taken to an unknown location where she was ill-treated and forced to confess to the charges brought against her. Although she denied all the accusations and in the absence of any evidence against her, she is still currently detained in inhuman conditions and still awaiting for trial. Her detention has been renewed 14 times since her arrest.

Ahmed Omar Makram Al Sayed Ahmed

24 years old

Student

Mr Al Sayed Ahmed was arrested on 6 December 2016 and held in secret for 36 days. He was severely beaten and sentenced to prison. On 5 July 2017, while he was supposed to be released, he disappeared following a transfer from the prison to a police station. He remains missing since and the authorities deny detaining him.

Mahmoud Mohamed Mahmoud Al Barbery

37 years old

Freelance accountant

Mr Al Barbery was violently arrested following a State Security’s raid at his home on 16 August 2013. Held incommunicado for 15 days he was brutally tortured to force him to confess to crimes he did not commit and sentenced to death. His sentence was reduced to five years of imprisonment on 8 May 2017. His health state has deteriorated significantly since his arrest, he was however constantly denied medical care.

Ahmed Abdelrahman Ahmed Youssef Mabrouk

23 years old

Student

Mr Mabrouk was abducted on 6 September 2016 as he was leaving the University. He was secretly detained for two months and brutally tortured to confess to crimes he did not commit. His detention is extended every 45 days pending trial which continues to be postponed since April 2017 without any justification.

Ahmed Shawky Abdelsattar Mohamed Amasha

55 years old

Human rights defender, member of the “Kefaya” opposition movement and trade unionist

Dr Amasha was abducted on 10 March 2017 at a checkpoint. He was secretly detained for 20 days and severely tortured to confess to “belonging to a banned group”. He was raped and threatened with the rape of his female relatives. He is currently held in inhuman conditions and awaits his trial. He risks being sentenced to a heavy penalty for his peaceful activism. 

Abdelrehim Mohamed Abdelrehim Mohamed

53 years old

Cardiologist

Mr Mohamed was arrested 16 August 2013 and held in secret for two weeks during which he was interrogated and brutally tortured to sign self-incriminating statements. He was sentenced to the death penalty in two cases. On 8 May 2017, one of his sentences was reduced to five years of imprisonment, the second case’s re-trial is scheduled for 17 September 2017. He is currently detained in inhuman conditions and denied medical care.

Bassma Refaat Abdel Moneim Mohamed Rabi’

33 years old

Doctor

Mrs Rabi’ was abducted on 6 March 2016 from the street and taken to an unknown location where she was held in secret for 13 days. She was interrogated and brutally tortured to confess to “belonging to a banned group”. On 22 July 2017, she was sentenced to 15 years of imprisonment following an unfair trial. She is currently detained in inhuman conditions at the Al Qanater Al Khayriyah Prison for women.

Adel Ezzat Mohamed

Al Haddad

37 years old

Freelance trader

Mr Al Haddad was abducted on 24 January 2015 from the street. He was taken to an unknown location and was secretly detained for 18 days. He was severely beaten and charged in four different cases under the same charges of “belonging to a banned group”. He was sentenced to 20 years imprisonment in absentia in one case, while the three other cases are yet to be clarified. He detained in inhuman conditions and denied medical care.

Reem Kotb Bassuiony Kotb Gobara

40 years old

Filmmaker, director, educational technologist

Mrs Gobara was arrested at the Cairo airport. She was charged with “joining a banned group”, “conspiracy”, “spying” and “promoting a misleading image of Egypt” due to her filming activities. Her detention is renewed every 15 days pending trial. Her family is suffering from reprisals from the authorities due to her activities as a filmmaker.

Omar Mohamed Ali

24 years old

Student

Mr Ali was arrested on 1 June 2015 from the street. He was held in secret for 13 days and subjected to brutal torture and forced to confess to “belonging to a terrorist cell”. He was sentenced to life imprisonment by a military court following a summary mass trial, his sentence was upheld on 21 September 2016. He filed an appeal with the Military High Court and remains detained in inhuman conditions pending trial.

Mahmoud Ahmed Mohamed Ahmed Abou-Leil

20 years old

Secondary School Student

Mr Abou Leil was abducted from his workplace on 17 December 2016. He was secretly detained for 20 days and severely tortured to record a video in which he confessed to “belonging to a banned group” and “having participated in a bombing in front of the Al-Salam Mosque in Al-Taliba district on Al-Haram street in Giza Governorate”. His name was added to an ongoing mass trial case before the Military Court of Cairo. He is awaiting for trial and detained in inhuman conditions with no access to the outside world.

Hanane Baderraddine Abdalhafez Othman

39 years old

Doctor in biology and human rights activist working with families of disappeared

Dr Othman was arrested on 6 May 2017 at the Al Qanater prison where she went to inquire about the fate of her husband who is disappeared since 2013. She was interrogated on her activities for several hours, under severe psychological pressure and threats against her physical integrity. Her detention is renewed every 15 days pending results of investigations based on State Security services’ accusations against her. She is currently detained incommunicado at the Al Qanater prison for women and denied the right to receive family visits.

Mohmaed Abdulmageed Ibrahim Dessouky

51 years old

Architect and politician, former Member of Parliament with the Freedom and Justice Party

Mr Dessouky was abducted on 15 February 2017 from his car. He was held in secret for 13 days and subjected to brutal torture to confess to belonging to a banned group. His detention is renewed every 15 days pending trial while he remains held in inhuman conditions and subjected to constant harassment at the Tora Prison. On 9 July 2017, his detention was renewed for 150 days.

For more information or an interview, please contact media@alkarama.org (Dir: +41 22 734 1008).