Monday 18 June 2018 — Human rights groups expressed growing concern about Egyptian campaigner Amal Fathy and urged authorities to release her immediately.
Ms Fathy was seized by police on 11 May after posting a video about sexual harassment. Ms Fathy and her husband Mohamed Lotfy, co-founder of award-winning human rights group the Egyptian Commission for Rights and Freedoms, had their Cairo home raided by armed police in the early hours of the morning, and she, Mr Lotfy and their two year-old son were taken to a police station.
Mr Lotfy and his son were released several hours later but Ms Fathy remains in custody, where her health is deteriorating. Her lawyer has reported that Ms Fathy, a communications student, is suffering panic attacks in detention. Initially detained for 15 days, Ms Fathy’s detention has twice been extended, with no date yet set for a hearing.
The trigger for the arrest was a 12-minute Facebook video in which Ms Fathy complained about having been sexually harassed at a bank and the difficulties of being a woman in Egypt. Ms Fathy has since been charged with membership of a terrorist organisation.
Mr Lotfy is one of the leaders of the Egyptian Commission for Rights and Freedoms, which coordinates campaigns for those who have been tortured or disappeared. Between August 2016 and August 2017, the ECRF documented 378 cases of enforced disappearance, many of them concerning students. In April 2018, ECRF was awarded an Index on Censorship Freedom of Expression Award.
Index on Censorship, together with international lawyers Doughty Street Chambers and ECRF, last month submitted a complaint on the treatment of Mr Lotfy and his son, and the continued detention of Ms Fathy, to the UN rapporteurs on freedom of expression and human rights defenders.
“We are seriously worried about Ms Fathy and the lack of due process in her case. This continued detention is already having a terrible impact on her own health not to mention that of her young son, for whom Ms Fathy is the primary carer,” said Index on Censorship CEO Jodie Ginsberg.
Egypt has seen an escalation in violence against women and prominent women human rights defenders and activists are routinely harassed and silenced by the authorities. A 2017 poll named Cairo as the most dangerous major city for women.
The organisations ask Egypt to release Ms Fathy immediately.
For more information, please contact Sean Gallagher at Index on Censorship: [email protected].
The Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI)
Doughty Street Chambers
Front Line Defenders
Index on Censorship