Egypt: Immediately release defenders Ibrahim Ezz El-Din and Haitham Mohammedein, and end reprisals against rights organizations

In Egypt /Road Map Program, Statements and Position Papers by CIHRS

The undersigned rights organizations demand the immediate release of researcher Ibrahim Ezz El-Din and labor lawyer and activist Haitham Mohammedein, both working at the Egyptian Commission for Rights and Freedoms (ECRF). El-Din, age 27, remains missing after his arbitrary arrest on June 11th. Mohammedein has been  imprisoned on fraudulent charges since May. The two ECRF colleagues’ arrests come amid a frenzied state security onslaught targeting human rights defenders working with Egyptian rights organizations. The undersigned condemn this security campaign and demand an end to the Egyptian government’s policies of enforced disappearance and reprisals against human rights defenders and those working with or cooperating with rights groups.

The fate and whereabouts of Ibrahim Ezz El-Din have been concealed by the government since his arrest. After his disappearance, El-Din’s home was raided and ransacked by security forces. His family and attorney have filed several telegrams[1] and petitioned[2] the Public Prosecutor, thus far to no avail; while ECRF lawyers have filed suit with the Administrative Court [3] naming the Interior Minister in his official capacity and demanding the disclosure of El-Din’s whereabouts. The undersigned reiterate this demand for the immediate disclosure of El-Din’s current location and his immediate release, and an investigation into his unlawful disappearance. We hold the Egyptian security authorities entirely liable for his life and safety.

Ibrahim Ezz El-Din’s arrest and disappearance came shortly after the arrest of his colleague Haitham Mohammedein on May 13. Mohammedein was arrested while in preventive custody at the al-Saff police station in Giza. After being disappeared for three days, Mohammedein turned up at Homeland Security headquarters before appearing before the High State Security Prosecution on 16 May 2019 in connection with case no. 741 of 2019. He is charged with abetting a terrorist group and abusing social media sites. The prosecution remanded him to custody for 15 days pending investigation; his detention orders continue to be renewed. The undersigned demand Mohammedein’s immediate, unconditional release and the dropping of all charges against him.

Mohammedein has been relentlessly prosecuted by the Egyptian state for his peaceful advocacy for labor rights. He had already been arrested and detained on fraudulent charges[4] in another case  (no. 718 of 2018/High State Security), and the order for his release, with precautionary measures, was issued on 10 October 2018. He was arrested and disappeared while in custody for unfair precautionary measures in connection with another politicized case; all prior to his current, ongoing detainment.

The arrest and enforced disappearance of researcher Ibrahim Ezz El-Din and the repeated arrests and prosecution of lawyer Haitham Mohammedein are indicative of a broader, malicious security campaign against civil society and rights organizations, targeting those who work for these organizations or cooperate with them through reprisals including falsified charges and relentless prosecution. All reprisals against Egyptian rights organizations and defenders, and people who cooperate with them, must end. An investigation must be launched into the crimes of enforced disappearance, torture, and other violations of due process and the most fundamental legal rights, including the right to be held in a known location and to be able to contact family members and lawyers, and the right to an impartial and independent investigation and trial.

Signatory Organizations

  1. Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies
  2. Egyptian Commission for Rights and Freedoms
  3. Adalah Center for Rights and Freedoms
  4. Nadeem Center
  5. Freedom Initiative
  6. Association for Freedom of Thought and Expression
  7. Egyptian Front for Human Rights
  8. Committee for Justice
  9. Belady Center for Rights and Freedoms

[1] documenting El-Din’s arrest and detention in an undisclosed location
[2] no. 8077/2019/public prosecutor petitions)
[3]  no. 56026/73JY
[4] on charges of abetting a terrorism group with knowledge of its purposes, inciting to a demonstration to obstruct public transit and harm citizens’ interest, and using the internet to incite to “terrorist acts.”

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