UN Experts Call For Immediate Release Of Alaa Abdel Fattah
GENEVA (11 November 2022) – UN experts* today joined the growing chorus of human rights voices expressing fears for the life of Egyptian blogger and activist Alaa Abdel Fattah and demanding his release.
The experts reiterated their concern about the activist who was persecuted for his human rights advocacy when he was charged with terrorism related offences and did not receive a fair trial. The jailed British-Egyptian activist escalated his seven-month hunger strike this week by refusing water.
“The fact that we ‘hear and see’ Mr Abdel Fattah now, because the COP27 conference takes place in Egypt, underscores the importance of States and other stakeholders addressing his plight directly with the Egyptian government. The national authorities must ensure that his right to life is protected. His imprisonment and suffering should not become the image that defines the COP climate conference.” the experts said.
The case of Mr. Abdel Fattah is emblematic. He has experienced multiple and sustained harms over the course of his arrest, trial and imprisonment, they said.
The experts recalled six previous communications regarding Mr Abdel Fattah’s case where they set out profound concerns regarding his multiple arrests, detention, sentencing in absentia, ill-treatment while held in Tora prison, and prolonged pre-trial detention.
“The hunger strike by Mr Abdel Fattah – a decision that may end in his death -- appears to be the last resort of an individual deprived of all avenues to challenge a sentence by Egypt’s Terrorism Circuit Court, where basic procedural and substantive rights concerns, including lack of judicial independence, are allegedly systematic. His mental and physical health have severely deteriorated in recent months,” the experts said.
The experts urged the government of Egypt to release Mr. Abdel Fattah without delay to ensure that he receives urgent medical treatment and can be reunited with his family. They urged Egypt to seize the moment to demonstrate its willingness to abide by international human rights standards and review the cases of numerous other individuals charged with similar offences including Mohamed El-Baqer, Mohamed Ibrahim Radwan, Ezzat Ghoniem, Hoda Abdel Moneim, Aisha al-Shater, and Patrick George Zaki.
“The COP 27 conference is an opportunity to demonstrate that commitment to international human rights law matters to Egypt, and that its government is responsive to the calls of the international community,” they said.
*The experts: Fionnuala Ní Aoláin, Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights while countering terrorism; Margaret Satterthwaite, Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers; Tlaleng Mofokeng, Special Rapporteur on the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health; Morris Tidball-Binz, Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions; Ms. Miriam Estrada-Castillo (Chair-Rapporteur), Mr. Mumba Malila (Vice-chairperson), Ms. Priya Gopalan, Mr. Matthew Gillett, and Ms. Ganna Yudkivska - Working Group on arbitrary detention; Aua Baldé (Chair-Rapporteur), Gabriella Citroni (Vice-Chair), Grażyna Baranowska, Luciano Hazan, Angkhana Neelapaijit, Working Group on enforced or involuntary disappearances, and Clement Nyaletsossi Voule, Special Rapporteur Freedom of Association and Assembly.