Today marks six years since the detention of human rights lawyer Ibrahim Metwally, who was arrested on September 10, 2017. It worth noting that his period of detainment has surpassed the legally prescribed period for pretrial custody, which is two years, in clear violation of the law, and as part of a systematic retaliation against his efforts to uncover the fate of his son, who has been forcibly disappeared son since July 2013, and his vital work within the League of the Families of the Forcibly Disappeared to reveal the fate of others.
While we, the undersigned organizations, unequivocally condemn the arbitrary detention of lawyer Ibrahim Metwally as a retaliatory measure for his legitimate human rights work in the field of forcibly disappeared individuals, providing legal support to their families, and engaging in local and international advocacy campaigns to end this crime; we demand his immediate and unconditional release, the revelation of the fate of his son who disappeared ten years ago, and the cessation of enforced disappearance in Egypt with the prosecution of those responsible.
The Egyptian security apparatus arrested Metwally on September 10, 2017, at Cairo International Airport, just before his departure to Geneva to participate in the 113th session of the United Nations Working Group on Forced Disappearances. He was scheduled to provide his testimony as a parent of one of the victims of this crime and as the coordinator of the League of the Families of the Forcibly Disappeared. Two days later, Metwally was brought in for an investigation by the State Security Prosecution in Case no. 900 of 2017, facing charges of leading an unlawfully established group, spreading false news and statements, and communicating with foreign entities. After two years of pretrial detention, the prosecution decided to release him on October 14, 2019. However, he was immediately re-apprehended upon his release and transferred to a National Security facility for further interrogation before the State Security Prosecution on November 5, 2019, this time in a new case, no. 1470 of 2019, with identical charges. His pretrial detention was extended continuously until the Criminal Court replaced it with alternative precautionary measures on August 26, 2020. For the second time, security authorities refused his release. Metwally was surprised, while finalizing his release procedures from the police station, to find himself accused in a third case, numbered 786 of 2020, facing the same charges. He continues to be detained on its account to this day.
Over the past six years, Metwally has endured deplorable detention conditions and mistreatment in the prisons he has passed through. It all began with torture, electric shocks, forced nudity, and dousing with cold water upon his arrival at the State Security headquarters in Abbasia immediately after his arrest at the airport. In the notoriously harsh and ill-reputed Tora (2) Prison, Metwally continued to suffer mistreatment. He was denied visitation rights throughout his detention there, confined to a poorly ventilated cell, deprived of proper bedding, forced to sleep on the floor, and denied access to books or newspapers. His health has deteriorated as a result of this mistreatment, leading to severe prostate inflammation and enlargement. In 2022, he was transferred to the Badr (3) Rehabilitation Center, where he endured similar conditions. The prison administration allowed only two recorded visits via telephone, each lasting no more than 20 minutes, through a glass partition.
It is worth mentioning that Egypt still refuses to sign the international agreement for the protection of all persons from enforced disappearance. Egyptian authorities deny the existence of this crime, while the “Stop Enforced Disappearance” campaign estimates the number of forced disappearances in Egypt from August 2015 to August 2023 to be 4,253 cases.
- Stop Enforced Disappearance Campaign
- El-Nadeem Center
- Association for Freedom of Thought and Expression
- Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies (CIHRS)
- Committee For Justice
- Egyptian Commission for Rights and Freedoms
- Egyptian Front for Human Rights
- The Freedom Initiative
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