UN fears that the lives of two Egyptian brothers were endangered after their arrest and torture following the 2013 military coup
This is also available in: العربية (Arabic) متوفر ايضا باللغة
Translated and edited by: Committee for Justice
Geneva: July 13, 2021
UN experts have expressed their concern about the suffering of the two brothers, Abdel-Rahman and Omar Gamal Metwally Ibrahim, who were subjected to arbitrary arrest and torture in Egypt against the background of the 2013 military coup, when they were accused of belonging to the Muslim Brotherhood.
Arbitrary detention and torture:
The experts explained in their memorandum sent to the Egyptian authorities on May 4, 2021, that Omar was arrested on March 24, 2014, and charged with belonging to the Brotherhood, demonstrating without a license. They said he was subjected to ill-treatment, torture, electric shocks and burning with cigarettes. He was acquitted and released a few years later on January 28, 2017.
The experts added that his brother, Abdel-Rahman, aged 23, was arrested on November 14, 2014, outside his home in the city of Suez by plainclothes police officers, who did not present him with an arrest warrant. He was charged with belonging to the Muslim Brotherhood, demonstrating, and burning police cars, six days after his arrest, as he was detained in the National Security building in the city of Suez, in which he was tortured and ill-treated physically and psychologically in order to extract a confession from him. He was blindfolded most of the time during his torture. He was also hung on metal bars and subjected to electric shocks, and cigarettes were put out in his body, which made him unable to walk or speak, his shoulder was broken, and his skin was burned.
The experts indicated in their memorandum that during the hearing, witnesses were brought to testify that Abdul-Rahman was mentally ill and receiving treatment, and no evidence was presented against him other than this perjury. He also informed the Public Prosecutor of his torture and ill-treatment, but those allegations were ignored. The court sentenced him to 32 years in prison, and since February 2020, he is serving his sentence in the new Minya prison, wing no. 8.
Ill- treatment and threats to the family:
Experts stated that Abdul Rahman lives in poor living conditions, as he is deprived of basic and appropriate bedding, does not receive adequate medical care, and is not allowed to leave his cell except for one hour a day. The food is insufficient, unfit for eating, and therefore he is exposed to starvation.
The experts said on April 25, 2021, his family made a public appeal on social media, following which, on the night of April 27, police forces raided the family’s home, arrested three of its members, and took them to the Al-Masara Security headquarters in Helwan.
The experts expressed their concerns about allegations of arbitrary arrests, detention and ill-treatment, including through physical intimidation of family members, forced coercion of false confessions, poor conditions in detention, as well as the current conditions of Abd al-Rahman, especially that his life may be in danger.
International demands from the Egyptian authorities:
The experts called on the Egyptian authorities to provide detailed information on the factual and legal basis for the arrest and continued detention of “Abdel-Rahman”, and to explain how these measures are consistent with Egypt’s international human rights obligations, as well as to provide detailed information on the steps taken to ensure that all due process guarantees are fulfilled during his trial. including immediate and effective access to independent legal aid.
The experts also called on Egypt to provide details of any investigation, judicial or other, that have been conducted in relation to consistent allegations of torture and/or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment in detention and, if an investigation has not been launched, explain why and how this is consistent with Egypt’s international obligations in the field of human rights.
The experts also requested Egypt to provide information on whether any steps have been taken to assess the potential danger facing “Abd al-Rahman” and his protection needs, including his right to life and freedom from torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.
The experts also called on the Egyptian authorities to present the steps they have taken to implement the Convention against Torture and the prohibition of torture in all circumstances, clarifying any policies or legislation to ensure that prisoners are not treated in a discriminatory manner on the basis of their religion or belief, in addition to their religious needs in prison.
Egyptian rejection of the UN communication:
The Permanent Mission of Egypt to the United Nations rejected the language of the letter in which the memorandum was addressed, noting that it was “politically motivated”, and that it had thus violated the special code of conduct, as it claimed.
The mission also stated that the aforementioned citizens had not alleged that they had been discriminated against based on their religion, so the mission considered that there was no clear reason to add the Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief to this joint statement.
For all these reasons, the Egyptian mission rejected this memorandum, while it did not address the response to the alleged violations.