Urgent Action Update: Arbitrarily Detained Activist Amid Pandemic (Egypt: UA 132.19)

May 26, 2020

On 18 May 2020, prominent activist Alaa Abdel Fattah – who has been arbitrarily detained since September 2019 at Tora Maximum Security Prison 2 ended his 36-day hunger strike in protest at the renewal of his detention in a hearing he was not allowed to attend. Human rights lawyer Mohamed el-Baqer’s pre-trial detention was also renewed for 45 days in his absence, denying him the right to challenge his arbitrary detention.

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Public Prosecutor Hamada al-Sawi
Due to postal restrictions caused by COVID-19, please only send physical mail to the Embassy
Fax: +202 2577 4716
Twitter: @EgyptJustice
Ambassador Yasser Reda
Embassy of the Arab Republic of Egypt
3521 International Ct NW, Washington DC 20008
Phone: 202 895 5400 I Fax: 202 244 5131
Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @EgyptEmbassyUSA
Salutation: Dear Ambassador

Dear Counselor,

I am writing to you to raise concerns about the ongoing arbitrary detention and safety of prisoners Alaa Abdel Fatah and Mohamed el-Baqer. Amnesty International considers both to be prisoners of conscience, detained solely in relation to their peaceful defense of human rights.

While I am aware that in early March the Egyptian authorities suspended all prison visits as a measure to prevent the spread of COVID-19, prison officials have a responsibility to make sure Mohamed and Alaa are permitted to regularly send letters to their families.

Prison official arbitrarily refused to receive medication from Alaa’s family during his hunger strike from 12 April. Alaa’s mother and sister attempted to deliver vitamins, herbal beverages, rehydration solution, disinfectants and hygienic materials to him on 23 days, often spending most of the day outside the prison, but prison officials refused. After a month of no news regarding the health of Alaa, prison officials finally gave his mother Leila Soueif and sister Mona Seif a letter on 18 May. In his letter, Alaa explained that he ended his hunger strike after learning that he could proceed with his complaint over arbitrary detention through his lawyers. Alaa had gone on hunger strike in protest at his continued detention without a legal basis after the expiration of his pre-trial detention order. His detention was extended by another 45 days on 5 May ithout him or his lawyers in attendance. They had no opportunity to challenge the legality of ther detention, in violation of his right to legal recourse and freedom from arbitrary detention according to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

I therefore ask you to release Alaa Abdel Fattah and Mohamed el-Baqer immediately and unconditionally and drop the charges on which they are being investigated, as they are detained solely in relation to the peaceful exercise of their rights. Pending their release, I call on you to ensure they have access to adequate healthcare and means to communicate with their families and lawyers. I also ask you to ensure that the complaints related to their torture and other ill-treatment are investigated. I finally urge you to immediately release all those detained solely for peacefully exercising their rights to freedom of expression and assembly and take measures to protect the health of all prisoners amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Yours sincerely,

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES