UN experts denounce Egypt’s violations against four human rights defenders, demand probe
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Translation and editing by: Committee for Justice
Geneva: April 21, 2021
UN human rights experts stated that they have received information related to the seriousness of developments threatening physical and mental safety of four human rights defenders detained in Egypt, including failure to provide them with medical care, physical and sexual abuse, and alleged enforced disappearance.
Solafa Magdy, human rights defender and independent journalist:
The UN memorandum, sent to the authorities in Egypt on February 16, 2021, to which no response has yet been received, included the case of the Egyptian human rights defender and journalist Solafa Magdy.
Prior to her detention on 29 November 2019, Magdy raised awareness through social media about human rights violations in Egypt, and through her journalistic work, she covered stories about human rights defenders imprisoned in the country.
Magdy is currently detained in Qanater Women’s Prison, pending Case No. 488/2019, on charges of “belonging to a terrorist organization” and “spreading false news”. She suffers from many medical problems, including kidney pain and difficulty breathing. Magdy reported being subjected to sexual assault at the hands of prison officers when she allegedly did not cooperate in providing them with information about activists.
Hoda Abdel Moneim, Egyptian lawyer and human rights defender:
The UN memorandum also touched on the case of the lawyer in cassation and the Egyptian Supreme Constitutional Court, and a member of the Board of Directors of the Egyptian Committee for Rights and Freedoms, Hoda Abdel Moneim.
Abdel Moneim, 61, had been active in monitoring and documenting human rights violations in Egypt, in particular with regard to the rights of women and children, and providing legal aid to victimized defendants.
She was arrested on November 1, 2018, and was not allowed to receive visits, make phone calls, or send and receive messages for her family, and she has no contact with her lawyer except in the renewal of detention sessions, and special permission must be obtained from the judge to speak with her lawyer for a minute at the end of these sessions. Her health deteriorated during her detention, as she suffers from kidney problems, high blood pressure, and deep venous thrombosis in her left leg.
She was previously suspected of pulmonary embolism, and on January 26, 2020, suffered a heart attack. On November 22, 2020, she was transferred to El Manial Hospital after suffering from severe pain, and she was informed that one of her kidneys was failing, and the other was not working properly.
Ramy Kamel, human rights defender and Coptic activist:
The UN memorandum also included the case of the Egyptian human rights defender, Ramy Kamel, a Coptic Christian. Before his arrest, Kamel had been defending the rights of Copts for a societal approach to urban development in Egypt . Since he was imprisoned for the first time in November 2019, Kamel has been held in solitary confinement, and he has been denied access to his medicines, which led to a deterioration in his health condition. He has also been denied access to his lawyer, and despite the facilitation of his access to his medicines now, his health is visibly deteriorating due to the poor conditions of detention.
Ahmed Samir Abdel Hay Ali, Egyptian human rights defender:
The UN memorandum also listed the case of the Egyptian human rights defender, Ahmed Samir Abdel Hay Ali, who is a master’s researcher in Sociology and Social Anthropology in Central Europe at the University of Vienna. Ali left Egypt in September 2019 to pursue his studies. He previously worked with the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights and the Association for Freedom of Thought and Expression.
On December 15, 2020, Abdel-Hay returned to his home in Egypt to spend his winter vacation from the university. Upon reaching the international airport in Sharm El-Sheikh, he was stopped and questioned by the airport police and released, But on January 23, 2021, at 2 am, seven armed officers from the Central Security apparatus stormed his home in the First Settlement in Cairo while his family was sleeping, and without submitting a warrant. They searched the entire house, and photographed the ID cards of all those present. Ali disappeared for six days, until February 6, 2021, when he appeared before the Supreme State Security Prosecution, where he was charged with “joining a terrorist organization,” “spreading false news,” and “using a personal account on the Internet to spread fake news and added to Case No. 65/2021.
UN demands from Egyptian authorities:
The experts asked the Egyptian authorities to provide information on the results of the investigation that the judge requested in the session to renew the detention of Magdy about her exposure to physical and sexual abuse, and in the event that no investigation has yet been conducted, clarify the reason, as well as provide information on whether the necessary medical care is provided to stop the deterioration of her health, along with providing information on the legal and factual basis for the charges against her. As for the case of Abdel Moneim, experts demanded Egypt to provide information on why she has not received family visits or legal aid since her arrest, as well as to provide information about the extent of medical care provided to her, along with the provision of medicines in a timely manner and transfer to hospitals outside prisons to receive treatments. Concerning the case of Ali, the experts called on Egyptian authorities to provide information about any investigations into the allegation of his enforced disappearance, and whether remedies were provided to the family when his whereabouts were not known, while also providing information on the legal and factual basis for the charges against him.