05/05/2020

Urgent Action Update: Detained Lawyer at Risk Amid Covid-19 Outbreak (Egypt: UA 131.19)


Relatives of human rights lawyer and activist, Mahienour el-Masry, who is unlawfully detained at Al-Qanater women’s prison, are concerned about her safety amid fears of a potential outbreak of COVID-19 in Egyptian prisons. Family members last had news about Mahiebour from a former detainee released on 20 March 2020.

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Public Prosecutor Hamada al-Sawi
Office of the Public Prosecutor
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,

On 10 March 2020, the Egyptian authorities suspended all prison visits as a measure to prevent the spread of COVID-19. The authorities failed to introduce regular alternative means of communications between detainees and their families and lawyers such as bi-monthly phones calls as prescribed by Egyptian law.

Some, but not all inmates, have been able to send and receive written correspondence. However, Al-Qanater women’s prison authorities did not allow Mahienour el-Masry to send letters to her family, which raises fears about her safety amid a potential outbreak of COVID-19 in prison. Her relatives last heard news about her on 20 March, when a released detainee recounted that Mahienour was in good health.

On 12 April 2020, Al-Qanater women’s prison authorities started allowing most inmates, including Mahienour, to receive clothes, food, sanitizers, letters, and a hot meal weekly from their relatives.

Mahienour’s pre-trial detention was last renewed on 20 February 2020 for 45 days. Since 15 March 2020, the Egyptian Ministry of Justice suspended all hearings before courts as a measure to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Therefore, detainees, including Mahienour, are not being transferred to court sessions or detention renewal hearings.

Amnesty International considers Mahienour a prisoner of conscience, detained solely for her peaceful work defending victims of human rights violations.

I ask you to immediately and unconditionally release Mahienour el-Masry and drop all charges against her. Pending her release, I urge you to ensure that she is provided with means to regularly communicate with her family and lawyers. I finally urge the Egyptian authorities 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,

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