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After CFJ complaints, UN calls on Egypt to release politician Aboul Fotouh and provide him immediate access to health care

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News briefing

Translated and edited by: Committee for Justice

Geneva: January 18, 2023

UN human rights experts call on the Egyptian authorities to ensure adequate health care as a matter of urgency for the detained former presidential candidate and head of the Strong Egypt party, Dr. Abdel Moneim Aboul Fotouh, due to the severe deterioration of his health. They also called for opening investigations into the circumstances surrounding his detention and deprivation of freedom.

This came in a memorandum sent by the experts to the Egyptian authorities on November 18, 2023, to which no response has been received so far, expressing their concern about the continued lack of medical care in prison for the detained politician, believed to be in a life-threatening condition.

Arrest and designation on the terrorist list:

The experts explained that Aboul Fotouh was arrested in February 2018, on charges of “spreading false news and leading a terrorist organization”. In 2019 and 2021, additional charges were brought against him, including financing a terrorist organization, possession of firearms, and training individuals on the use of weapons. He was placed on terrorism lists.

The experts added that on May 29, 2022, the State Security Emergency Court sentenced Aboul Fotouh to 15 years in prison for “disseminating false news” and “inciting against state institutions,” noting that the emergency court that issued these sentences did not abide by the minimum guarantees of a fair trial, and the rulings were not subject to appeal.

Severe deterioration in his health:

The experts pointed out that during his imprisonment, which lasted a total of 4 years and 3 months as of November, Aboul Fotouh was held in solitary confinement, which led to the deterioration of his health condition, as he had several heart attacks, and he was also ill with advanced prostate diseases.

The experts also pointed out that on March 23, 2022, Aboul Fotouh was subjected to a physical attack by forces led by the prison authority inspector in the Tora prisons area to which he was transferred to receive visits. The attack was allegedly done in retaliation for his request to register an official complaint about visitation restrictions imposed on him by the prison administration, and as a result he suffered angina.

Calls for his release and investigations:

The experts expressed alarm at Aboul Fotouh’s alleged lack of regular access to and communication with his family and legal representatives, the repeated extension of his pre-trial detention and solitary confinement, and the continued inclusion of his name on the terrorist list.

The experts also called on Egyptian authorities to respect the guarantee that Aboul Fotouh receives adequate and appropriate health care in a timely manner as a matter of urgency, in light of what appears to be a severe deterioration in his health condition.

The experts also asked the Egyptian authorities to conduct an effective investigation and assess the circumstances surrounding the arrest and deprivation of liberty of Aboul Fotouh, who appears to be being held on the basis of vague and broad allegations aimed at criminalizing his political views and participation in political life.

UN demands from the Egyptian authorities:

The experts called on the Egyptian authorities to provide immediate, updated and detailed information on the current state of “Aboul Fotouh in terms of physical and mental health, and on the measures that have been taken or are being taken in light of the alleged deterioration of his health.

The experts also called on Egypt to provide details of the reasons for rejecting the request of persons associated with Aboul Fotouh to transfer him to a private hospital, while providing the factual and legal basis for his arrest, detention and trial, and the reasons for keeping him in solitary confinement since his arrest in February 2018, and the justification for such a strict and disproportionate measure. He has been placed on the terrorism list since his arrest five years ago.

The experts also requested the authorities in Egypt to provide detailed information on any judicial or other investigations conducted in relation to the alleged assault by prison staff against Aboul Fotouh in Mazraat Tora Prison, on 23 March 2022, indicating the measures taken or expected and the mechanisms that have been put in place to ensure that appropriate medical care is provided to all detainees in Egypt without delay when necessary.

Committee for Justice Efforts:

The Committee for Justice has worked on the case of Dr. Abdel Moneim Aboul Fotouh since 2021, and had several correspondences with various UN mechanisms, in which it stressed that seeking the death of political prisoners inside prison by deliberately depriving them of medical care points to a possible systematic nature that could amount to torture or even an extrajudicial execution by the Egyptian authorities.

In an urgent appeal sent to the Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial Executions, CFJ requested international intervention to urge Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi to grant amnesty to Dr. Aboul Fotouh, in order to immediately release him from prison.

It also called for intervention to demand that the Egyptian authorities take immediate action regarding the harsh conditions of detention and the deteriorating medical conditions suffered by Dr. Aboul Fotouh, which pose an imminent threat to his life.

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