Egypt: Authorities Transfer Detainee Abdel Rahman ELSAYAR to Badr Prison

عبد الرحمن علي محمد علي السيار

The family of detainee Abdel Rahman ELSAYAR said Egyptian authorities had transferred their son to Badr prison, east of Cairo.  Badr is a recently created prison complex which, according to the authorities, is dedicated to the reception of prisoners serving short sentences, and where “emphasis is put on their professional qualification”.

On 22 June 2022, Alkarama submitted a complaint to the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, requesting his intervention to secure the release of Abdelrahman ELSAYAR.

The arbitrary detention of Abdel Rahman ELSAYAR

Abdel Rahman Ali Muhammad Ali ELSAYAR, an engineering student, was arrested on 20 September 2016 at noon in Aswan by security forces who accused him of planning to leave the country illegally. After his arrest, he was forcibly taken in an unmarked truck to an unknown location.

After his arrest, his family contacted various judicial security authorities, including prosecutors and police stations, who did not provide any information about his fate or whereabouts. Three months later, a lawyer who knew the family told them he had seen Abdel Rahman at the Cairo military court.

When he finally managed to contact a lawyer, Abdel Rahman ELSAYAR testified that since his arrest and throughout his three-month long secret detention, he has been blindfolded and handcuffed continuously.  Furthermore, he reported having been placed in a small, overcrowded cell, deprived of food and daylight. He also testified that he was severely beaten and electrocuted during interrogation sessions and forced to sign self-incriminating statements.

When he finally appeared before the investigating judge, he was charged with possession of a “significant sum of money” – about $2,000 that were confiscated – and “belonging to the Muslim Brotherhood movement”.

On 9 March 2020, after nearly four years in pre-trial detention, the Cairo Military Court sentenced him to 10 years in prison for participating in the planning and attempted assassination of an Egyptian prosecutor. No material evidence was provided by the prosecution, which relied solely on the confession extracted under torture from another detainee. This decision became final after the rejection of the appeal filed by Abdel Rahman ELSAYAR on 13 October 2021.

Although Abdel Rahman ELSAYAR did not cease to deny any involvement in the acts he was accused of, all along his trial, the judge in charge of his case told him that, even if he knew he was innocent, he had to convict him because the case was “political”. ELSAYAR was detained in Tora prison before his transfer.

Alkarama’s complaint to UN experts

In its complaint, Alkarama stressed that the victim's deprivation of liberty was arbitrary since it has no legal basis. Indeed, both the arrest and detention of the victim did not meet any of the standards set out in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights ratified by Egypt in 1982.

Alkarama pointed out that Abdel Rahman ELSAYAR was arrested without being informed of the reasons for his arrest, and without an arrest warrant. Subsequently, he was held in secret and placed outside the protection of the law. As a result, the most basic guarantees in detention have been violated from the day of his arrest, and throughout his detention, including when he was brought before a judicial authority.

During the proceedings, ELSAYAR was tried in mass trials in violation of his right to a fair trial.  UN experts had already expressed their concerns about the unfairness of these trials, stressing that they did not guarantee the respect for individual criminal responsibility. The experts had stated that the collective criminal responsibility of a large number of defendants in mass trials also constitutes a violation of their right to the presumption of innocence, which is contained in article 14 (2) of the International Covenant.

In addition, the victim did not have the time or means to prepare his defence. ELSAYAR was denied the right to counsel from the outset of his detention and throughout the trial. He remained in pre-trial detention for a long period of time, more than four years, in violation of his right to be tried within a reasonable time.

Finally, Alkarama stated that the unfair trial and ill-treatment of the victim is a direct result of his perceived political views – as ELSAYAR was accused of belonging to the Muslim Brotherhood movement –, thus rendering his deprivation of liberty arbitrary. He was subjected to a discriminatory treatment because of his political opposition, and his perceived membership to the Muslim Brotherhood, even though this party was accredited by the authorities.

The numerous cases that Alkarama brought before the UN special procedures following the Rabaa Square massacre have shown that the military authorities’ ban on the Muslim Brotherhood party and their designation as a terrorist organisation after the coup served as a basis for the systematic denial of fundamental rights of those who are considered members or sympathisers of the party.

Alkarama also highlighted that the judges responsible for conducting the mass trials have publicly declared their support for the military authorities and denied the existence of human rights violations by the military regime, in spite of their extensive documentation.