The Committee for Justice and the Egyptian Front for Human Rights have succeeded in obtaining an opinion from the United Nations Arbitrary Detention Working Group regarding 10 cases of arbitrary detention of Egyptian citizens who were arrested and forcibly disappeared for extended periods.
The Working Group stated in its opinion that “there is a pattern in Egypt whereby the authorities reimprison individuals who have been subjected to enforced disappearance or have continuously been detained under fabricated charges in political cases, to keep them detained indefinitely, and they are subjected to torture during their disappearance.”
The opinion issued by the UN Working Group presented the ten cases as follows:
· The case of Islam Nasser Abdulnabi Abdulmoneim: An Egyptian citizen born on September 6, 1990, residing in Kerdasa, Giza Governorate, Egypt. He worked as an accountant for a medical supplies company and was arrested on September 24, 2019, near Al-Qasr al-Aini Hospital in Cairo. He was forcibly disappeared until April 9, 2020, during this period he was subjected to physical and psychological torture.
· The case of Anas Hassan Ahmed Shafiq Mohamed Abu Zakary: An Egyptian citizen born on February 6, 1995, and a university student who usually resides in Ain Shams, Cairo Governorate, Egypt. He was arrested on September 25, 2017, on Maher Badawi Street in Ain Shams, Cairo. He was subjected to enforced disappearance until he was presented to the prosecution in November 2017, and he was forcibly disappeared again from March to July 2020.
· The case of Abdurahman Osama Mohamed Alaqeed: An Egyptian citizen born on March 2, 1987, who worked in a real estate marketing office and usually resided in Fakous, Al-Sharqiyah Governorate, Egypt. He was arrested on February 23, 2014, when he went to report violations by prison administration against one of his detained relatives. He was forcibly disappeared until April 24, 2014, during which he was subjected to torture. He was then transferred to a maximum-security prison and detained for three years. After the court ordered his release, he was transferred to Al Khalifa Police Station, where he was detained for another two months on another charge.
· The case of Mostafa Ahmed Ali Shaaban: An Egyptian citizen who was 31 years old at the time of his arrest. He is an engineer and usually resides in Haram district, Giza Governorate, Egypt. He was arrested on August 24, 2019, from his relative’s house and was subjected to enforced disappearance for three years, during which he was severely tortured.
· The cases of Mohamed Nasr Abdulhamid Ibrahim and Mohamed Ezzat Taha Omran: Mohamed Nasr Abdulhamid Ibrahim, an Egyptian citizen who was 28 years old at the time of his arrest and worked as an engineer. Mohamed Ezzat Taha Omran, an Egyptian citizen who was 23 years old at the time of his arrest and usually resided in the Fifth district, October City, Giza Governorate, Egypt. They were arrested on August 25, 2019, in Marina Gardens in the North Coast and were subjected to enforced disappearance for over three years while being held in the National Security Agency headquarters in Sheikh Zayed City.
· The case of Gehad Ayed Soliman Ayad: an Egyptian national who was 22 years old at the time of his arrest. He is a farmer and usually resides in Al-Sheikh Zuweid City, North Sinai Governorate, Egypt. He was arrested in June 2021, in El Qantara, Ismailia Governorate, while visiting one of his relatives. He was forcibly disappeared for over a year until he was presented to the prosecution on February 5, 2023.
· The case of Mohamed Salah Ahmed Bayomi: An Egyptian national who was 33 years old at the time of his arrest. He is a salesman and usually resides in the Al-Agouza district, Giza Governorate, Egypt. He was arrested on January 3, 2020, from his home in the Agouza area, Giza. He was subjected to enforced disappearance for three years at one of the premises of the National Security Agency until he was brought before the Supreme State Security Prosecution on January 31, 2023, which ignored his enforced disappearance.
· The case of Ahmed Yossri Rabea Abdulghany: An Egyptian citizen who was 35 years old at the time of his arrest, usually engaged in trade, and usually residing in Aswan Governorate, Egypt. He was arrested on December 16, 2019, and was subjected to enforced disappearance for three years at the Aswan National Security Agency headquarters.
· The case of Gehad Abdulkhaiq Awda Saeed: An Egyptian national born on 14 June 1989. He is farmer and usually resides in Al-Qantara Sharq, Isma’iliyah Governorate, Egypt.
Based on the information provided by CFJ and EFHR, the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention issued its opinion. It found that all ten individuals were deprived of the right to challenge the legality of their detention, which constitutes a violation of Article 9(4) of the Covenant. The Working Group also found that the arrest and preventive detention of the ten individuals were in contradiction to Articles 3 and 9 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 9 of the Covenant, and Principles 11, 37, and 38 of the Covenant. Consequently, the Working Group affirmed that the arrest and subsequent detention of all ten individuals constituted arbitrary measures within the first category. The Working Group also concluded that the violations of the rights of the ten individuals in a fair trial and due legal procedures had reached a level that characterized their deprivation of liberty as arbitrary within the third category as well.
Serious Violation of International Law:
In conclusion, the Working Group noted that this opinion is just one of many opinions issued in recent years, all of which found that the Egyptian authorities were violating their international obligations in the field of human rights. It expressed concern because this indicates a systemic problem related to arbitrary detention in Egypt, which, if continued, may rise to the level of a serious violation of international law.
CFJ and EFHR commend the UN Working Group’s opinion on the ten cases they highlighted. They see this as an initial step toward addressing the injustices and arbitrary detentions faced by these individuals. They hope that, with sustained international pressure, the Egyptian authorities will release all those arbitrarily held in Egypt.
The two organizations also call on Egypt to respect and consider the perspectives and findings of UN working groups and special rapporteurs. They emphasize the importance of halting human rights violations, fostering an open civic environment, and upholding the international treaties Egypt is a party to.