Egyptian security forces have targeted one of the last human rights organisations in the country, the Egyptian Commission for Rights and Freedoms, by detaining executive director Mohamed Lotfy with his wife, Amal Fathy, and their three-year-old-son.
Security officers searched their house, their mobile phones were seized and they were denied the right to communicate with a lawyer or family.
ECRF, a 2018 winner of an Index on Censorship Freedom of Expression award, works on documenting cases concerning torture in prisons and enforced disappearance in an increasingly difficult climate in Egypt where independent voices are suppressed and threatened.
Rachael Jolley, editor of Index on Censorship, said: “It is shocking how the lives of people who are working to make public information about torture in Egyptian prisons and other human rights violations are being threatened. Obviously the intention of this action, and others, is to stop the incredibly brave members of staff at this organisation carrying on with their important work. Index calls on governments around the world to put pressure on Egypt to release Amal Fathy and to shine a spotlight on the Egyptian government’s frightening tactics to stop the public knowing what is going on in that country.”
Authoritarian governments are increasing using arrest, detention or threats to family members to stop human rights activists carrying on with their work.
Lotfy and his son have been released, however his wife Amal Fathy remains in detention. Fathy has been ordered detained for a 15 days by the prosecution.