On 14 December 2016, the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (WGAD) published Opinion 60/2016 on the case of Egyptian citizen Omar Mabrouk first arrested by the Kuwaiti authorities in October 2015 and held in incommunicado detention before being extradited to Egypt in November 2015 where he was again held incommunicado until April 2016. Mabrouk was not allowed to contest his extradition. While detained in Egypt, he was subjected to severe acts of torture and is now facing an unfair trial on the basis of the confessions he was forced to make under torture.
Before his extradition to Egypt, Alkarama had alerted through urgent appeals the Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances (WGEID) and the Special Rapporteur on Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (SRT) and asked them to call on the Kuwaiti authorities to reveal his whereabouts and to refrain from extraditing him to Egypt where he was at real risk of torture given Egypt’s brutal record with regards to the practice.
However, Kuwaiti authorities did not halt his extradition, in violation of its obligation under article 3 of the UN Convention against Torture (UNCAT) which forbids state parties to extradite or deport individuals to a country where they may be at risk of being subjected to torture. In July 2016, Alkarama received confirmation that Mabrouk had been indeed tortured and secretly detained upon his arrival to Egypt. Alkarama then proceeded to refer his case to the WGAD asking the group of experts to issue an opinion declaring his detention arbitrary.
Based on the information submitted by Alkarama, the WGAD adopted an opinion stating that Mabrouk was arbitrarily detained and that his detention was in violation of his rights including his rights to know the reason for his arrest, to challenge the legality of his detention and his right to be free from torture and to not give coerced confessions. The group of experts further noted with concern the fact that Omar Mabrouk had been detained incommunicado in both Kuwait and Egypt and stressed that both countries were responsible for the violations. The UN experts thus urged Egyptian authorities to immediately release Omar Mabrouk and called on both Kuwait and Egypt to offer Mabrouk reparation for the serious violations committed against him.
The WGAD further noted that Mabrouk’s case was one of many it has received alleging arbitrary detention in Egypt and highlighted the fact that ”under certain circumstances, widespread or systematic imprisonment or other severe deprivation of liberty in violation of international law may constitute crimes against humanity.”
Radidja Nemar, Alkarama’s Regional Legal Officer for the Nile echoed the concerns of the WGAD and further explained that in Egypt, “arbitrary detention is routinely accompanied by incommunicado or secret detention which heavily facilitates the brutal and systematic torture that takes place in Egyptian prisons”. Nemar further called on all countries to respect article 3 of the Convention against Torture (UNCAT) and refrain from deporting detainees to Egypt where the risk of torture is almost certain.
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