EGYPT: Release Ramy Shaath!

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

Paris-Cairo-Geneva, August 30, 2019

Mr. Ramy Shaath, political opponent and Coordinator of the BDS movement in Egypt, is arbitrarily detained since July 5. The information was made public last week by his wife, who was forcibly expelled from the country at the time of her husband’s arrest. FIDH, the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) and the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies (CIHRS) denounce the ongoing consequences of the most recent crackdown on civil society in Egypt. They renew their call on the authorities to immediately end any act of harassment, including at the judicial level, against all peaceful activists, in particular political opponents and human rights defenders.

Mr. Ramy Shaath is a political opponent with Palestinian-Egyptian dual citizenship. He joined the coalition of activists who organized the January 2011 popular uprising that led to the departure of Egyptian President Mubarak, and played an important role in the country’s democratic transition, including the El-Dostour party. In addition, he has been the Coordinator of the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement in Egypt since 2015, in support of the Palestinians’ right to self-determination. He is also the son of Dr. Nabil Shaath, former Palestinian Deputy Prime Minister and current Foreign Affairs Advisor to President Mahmoud Abbas in Palestine.

Last week, his wife, Ms. Céline Lebrun Shaath, revealed that her husband has been arbitrarily detained since July 5, 2019, when a dozen of heavily armed security agents stormed his home during the night and searched it without presenting any legal documents justifying their intervention. During the raid, officers seized computers, hard drives and mobile phones. They took Mr. Ramy Shaath to an unknown location. Ms. Lebrun Shaath, a French citizen residing in Egypt for more than seven years, was present at the time of his arrest. She was arbitrarily and forcibly deported from Egypt back to France by officials who also refused to allow her to contact her consulate, though she was officially under its protection.

Mr. Ramy Shaath is arbitrarily detained for his legitimate and peaceful political activities and charged in a baseless criminal case. in which there is no tangible evidence against him, except for “police investigation findings” to which neither he nor his lawyers have had access”, said Leslie Piquemal, Senior EU Advocacy Representative at CIHRS.

Mr. Shaath’s disappearance was reported by his family and lawyers to the Qasr el Nil police station on July 5 in the morning. 36 hours later, on July 6, Mr. Shaath reappeared before the State Security Prosecution. It was then that his family discovered that he had been added to an already open criminal case (State Security case No. 930/2019) known as the “Hope Plan” case, and charged with “assistance to a terrorist group”.

The last months saw the creation in Egypt of a movement bringing together political parties and social movements on a pro human rights agenda. The Egyptian authorities, relayed by the official media, have renamed it the “Hope Plan”, and wrongly accused its alleged supporters of terrorism and undermining State security.

Since his arrest, Mr. Ramy Shaath has been held in Torah prison. He spent his first month of detention in a cell of about 30 square metres in which about 30 other people were also detained, some suffering from illnesses, with no space to lie down. His pre-trial detention has been constantly renewed, most recently on August 27, 2019.

We urge the Egyptian authorities to release immediately Mr. Ramy Shaath, given the absence of charges based on solid evidence against him, and that his wife be allowed to return to Cairo as soon as possible, both to support her husband and because it is her place of residence and employment ”, said Gerald Staberock, OMCT Secretary General.

During the last two months, at least 83 persons, including political opponents, journalists and human rights defenders, have been arrested in Egypt over terrorist charges for their alleged implication in a plot against the State, including former member of Parliament and human rights lawyer Zyad al-Elaimy, and human rights defenders Hassan Barbary, Ahmad Taman and Alaa Essam”, recalled Shawan Jabarin, Secretary General of FIDH.

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