Egypt: Activist Amal Fathy to appear in court on 15 July


Activist Amal Fathy has been ordered detained. (Photo: Facebook)

Activist Amal Fathy has been ordered detained. (Photo: Facebook)

Egyptian activist Amal Fathy, who was arrested on 11 May after posting a video criticising sexual harassment in Egypt – of which she herself is a victim – to Facebook, will next appear in court on 15 July 2018 after her pre-trial detention of 15 days was extended for the fifth time.

Fathy, who is detained at Al Qanater prison north of Cairo, stands accused of “belonging to a banned group”, “using a website to promote ideas calling for terrorist acts” and “intentionally disseminating false news that could harm public security and interest”.

When Fathy arrived at the Prosecution Office on 4 July, she showed symptoms of acute stress and was unable to walk on her own having lost sensation in her left leg. She was unable to walk normally unassisted. Fathy has a history of chronic depression, bipolar disorder and anxiety, conditions that have only worsened during her detention.

Fathy, along with her husband, Mohamed Lotfy, director of the Index award-winning NGO Egyptian Commission for Rights and Freedoms, and their son, were taken into custody during an early morning raid on their home soon after she posted the 12-minute video on 9 May about her experience with sexual harassment and the difficulties of being a woman in Egypt. As an activist, Fathy has also been vocal about human rights violations in Egypt, especially the arbitrary detention of other activists. Lotfy and their son – who Fathy was the primary carer of before her arrest – were later released.

“We stand in solidarity with the members of ECRF, call for the immediate release of Amal and demand that all charges against her be dropped,” Perla Hinojosa, fellowships and advocacy officer at Index on Censorship, said. “Index invites our readers to join two existing campaigns for her release, one by Amnesty International addressing the Egyptian president and minister of foreign affairs, and the other by Amal’s husband Mohamed calling for action from the European Parliament.” [/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_basic_grid post_type=”post” max_items=”4″ element_width=”6″ grid_id=”vc_gid:1531134800432-bdb56a3c-c68b-6″ taxonomies=”147″][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Doughty Street Chambers lodges UN complaint in case of detained Egyptian activist Amal Fathy

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_single_image image=”100566″ img_size=”full”][vc_row_inner][vc_column_inner width=”1/3″][vc_single_image image=”74586″ img_size=”full”][/vc_column_inner][vc_column_inner width=”1/3″][vc_single_image image=”88957″ img_size=”full”][/vc_column_inner][vc_column_inner width=”1/3″][vc_single_image image=”100560″ img_size=”full”][/vc_column_inner][/vc_row_inner][vc_column_text]International human rights lawyers Doughty Street Chambers have lodged a complaint to the United Nations on behalf of Egyptian campaigner Amal Fathy, her husband and their son after the family was seized by police. 

Ms Fathy and her husband Mohamed Lotfy, co-founder of award-winning human rights group the Egyptian Commission for Rights and Freedoms, were arrested by police in the early hours of May 11. Their Cairo apartment was raided by armed police, searched and Ms Fathy, Mr Lotfy and their two year-old son Zidane taken to a police station.

Mr Lotfy and Zidane were released several hours later but Ms Fathy remains in custody. The trigger for the arrests was said at the time to be a short 12-minute Facebook video posted by Ms Fathy in which she 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. 

“Unfortunately, the case of Mr Lotfy, his son, and Ms Fathy, are not isolated, nor in many ways surprising,” said Caoilfhionn Gallagher QC, one of the lawyers acting for the family. “Over the past several years, many Egyptian human rights defenders, bloggers and journalists have been subjected to state harassment, disproportionate police and judicial treatment, and arbitrary curtailment of their most fundamental rights.”

Ms Fathy is a communications student and former activist and actress who is active on social media, especially Facebook, where she advocates and expresses her views on ongoing issues in Egypt especially on women’s rights.

Mr Lotfy leads 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.

Caoilfhionn Gallagher QC and Jonathan Price of Doughty Street Chambers have submitted their 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. The complaint has been lodged jointly with ECRF and freedom of expression organisation Index on Censorship, which in April awarded ECRF one of its Freedom of Expression Awards Fellowships.

“We have grave concerns given the inevitable lack of due process for Ms Fathy. We also have serious concerns for her wellbeing given the likelihood of prolonged detention, away from her young son, and for the wellbeing of Zidane himself, removed from his 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 have asked the rapporteurs to:

    1. gather, request, receive and exchange information and communications from the Egyptian Government in relation to this case;
    2. publicly make concrete recommendations to the Egyptian authorities on their duty to adhere to their international obligations; and
    3. issue an opinion finding that Egypt has failed to adhere to its own obligations, and violated the rights of the complainants, under international law.

For more information, please contact Joy Hyvarinen at Index on Censorship: [email protected]. [/vc_column_text][vc_separator][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/2″][vc_single_image image=”97988″ img_size=”full” onclick=”custom_link” link=””][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/2″][vc_column_text]

Egyptian Commission for Rights and Freedoms

ECRF is one of the few human rights organisations still operating in a country which has waged an orchestrated campaign against independent civil society groups. Find out more about the 2018 Freedom of Expression Awards Campaigning Fellow.

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Human rights activist Amal Fathy’s arrest comes amid wider crackdown in Egypt

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_single_image image=”100519″ img_size=”full” add_caption=”yes” alignment=”center”][vc_column_text]Prosecutors have ordered Egyptian activist Amal Fathy to remain in detention for 15 days on charges of “inciting against the state,  using social media to spread fake news and defaming Egypt.”

On 11 May the 33 year-old pro-democracy online activist was arrested alongside her husband Mohamed Lotfy, founder and executive director of the 2018 Index on Censorship Freedom of Expression Award- winning Egyptian Commission for Rights and Freedoms, an Egyptian rights watchdog, in a pre-dawn raid on the couple’s home.

The arrests came two days after Fathy, a third-year Mass Communication student at Cairo University and a former actress and model,  posted a video lambasting the government for its failure to end sexual harassment, which remains widespread despite a 2014 law  that criminalises the behaviour.  In the 11-minute clip posted on her Facebook page, Fathy also criticised Egyptian authorities for “the deteriorating socio-economic conditions and public services in the country”.    

While her husband was released after three hours, Fathy was ordered held and remains in custody pending investigations by State Security Prosecutors in case no. 261 of 2018 in which several other young pro-reform activists face a host of accusations including “joining an outlawed group to disrupt state institutions, spread fake news and undermine trust in the Egyptian state.”  

The crackdown continues to gather pace. This morning, 23 May 2018, human rights activist and blogger Wael Abbas was arrested at dawn from his home in Cairo, according to a post he made on Facebook.

Shadi Ghazali Harb,  a prominent leader of the 2011 uprising that toppled President Hosni Mubarak,  is another government critic that has been arrested in the case. He was summoned by prosecutors on 15 May for investigation on charges of insulting president Abdel Fattah El Sisi and spreading false news in relation to tweets he had posted criticising the government over recent increases in metro fares.

“At a time when people don’t know how they’ll cope with the next wave of price hikes that started with the metro fares, Sisi is inspecting the new administrative capital and is racing against time to build a wall to isolate himself and his cronies from the people. Can he actually finish it before the next eruption of mass protests?” Harb tweeted on 11 May.  

Days earlier, comedian Shady Abu Zaid, who produces an online satirical show called The Rich Content, was arrested at his home and was forcibly disappeared for 24 hours before resurfacing at State Security Headquarters.  Abu Zaid has a large following on social media networks since posting a prank-video two years ago that showed him distributing condom-balloons among security forces in Tahrir Square on the anniversary of the January 25 uprising.  He too faces charges of joining an outlawed group and disseminating fake news, according to his lawyer Azza Soliman. Analysts say the incarceration of the young activists “signals a new wave of repression targeting Egypt’s youth revolutionaries with the aim of intimidating and silencing dissenters.”

Fathy’s video drew mixed reactions in Egypt meanwhile, with security sources and pro-government media accusing her of “insulting Egypt” and “inciting against the state”. State-run media outlets which have slipped back into their old habit of serving as government propaganda mouthpieces, identified her as a member of the April 6 Movement,  the youth group that mobilised protesters ahead of the 2011 uprising that toppled Mubarak. The group has been persistently vilified by the pro-government media with several TV talk show hosts branding its members as “traitors” and “foreign agents” after the movement was outlawed by court order in April 2014.  

Egyptian and international rights groups however, have denounced Fathy’s  detention with Amnesty International calling the move  “a new low in Egypt’s crackdown on freedom of expression.” Nine Egyptian rights groups have signed an online petition published by the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies on 14 May, describing Fathy’s detention as “state retribution for exercising her right to free speech” and calling for the activist’s immediate release.

The Egyptian Commission for Rights and Freedoms which signed the petition, said it was the actual target of Fathy’s arrest as the organisation has “continuously suffered persecution at the hands of Egyptian security agencies,” and its management has “frequently been the target of state harassment,” ECRF said in a statement published on its Facebook page on 12 May,  a day after Fathy’s arrest.

The ECRF’s Giza office was raided by security officers in plainclothes in October 2016 ; the men searched the office without presenting a search warrant and threatened to close it down. Lotfy, who previously worked as a researcher for Amnesty International before founding the ECRF, was banned from travelling in June 2015  and had his passport confiscated.  The rights watchdog works on documenting cases that are particularly touchy for the government such as enforced disappearances and torture in prisons. [/vc_column_text][vc_separator][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/2″][vc_single_image image=”99421″ img_size=”full” onclick=”custom_link” link=””][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/2″][vc_custom_heading text=”Egyptian Commission for Rights and Freedoms” font_container=”tag:p|font_size:24|text_align:left” use_theme_fonts=”yes” link=”|||”][vc_column_text]ECRF is one of the few human rights organisations still operating in a country which has waged an orchestrated campaign against independent civil society groups. Find out more about the 2018 Freedom of Expression Awards Campaigning Fellow.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_separator][vc_column_text]The government’s malpractices have become so rampant under the Sisi regime that they were described in a September 2017 Human Rights Watch report as “an epidemic of abuses.” The in-depth report sparked government outrage after it alleged that President Sisi had given national security officers the green light to use to use torture with impunity—a charge that has been vehemently denied by Egyptian government officials. Basing its findings on research by Egyptian rights groups including documentation of rights violations in Egyptian prisons by ECRF lawyers, the report cited such techniques as an “assembly line” of beatings, electric shocks, stress positions and sometimes rape by security forces that HRW said “could amount to crimes against humanity.” In a similar damning report published by the ECRF some months earlier, the organisation claimed it had received 830 complaints in 2016 with torture being practised to force suspects to confess or divulge information. It also said it had documented nearly 400 cases of enforced disappearances  between August 2016 and the same month in 2017.

The fact that ECRF’s  lawyers are also acting as legal consultants for Guilio Regeni’s family has only served to further provoke the ire of the Egyptian authorities. The case of the slain Italian researcher who went missing in Cairo before his badly-mutilated corpse was found in a ditch on the outskirts of Cairo in February 2015 has embarrassed the  government in Cairo, causing a rift between Egypt and Italy and prompting the latter to recall its ambassador. This, after investigations revealed that the Cambridge post-graguate student who had been researching the country’s independent trade unions—a topic of great sensitivity for the government—had been tortured before his death.

Rights lawyer Ibrahim Metwally, who was helping investigate Regeni’s murder and had been monitoring enforced disappearances , has been held  behind bars since September 2017 in reportedly “appalling conditions” after he himself was forcibly disappeared for three days.

Since 2014, Egyptian human rights defenders have borne the brunt of a brutal government crackdown on peaceful dissent. Their suffering has been made all the worse by the passing of a 2017 NGO law, slammed as “draconian” and “restrictive” by international rights groups. Dozens of rights groups face prosecution in the so-called “NGO foreign funding case,” reopened by the authorities in March 2016, on charges of “receiving foreign funding to sow chaos.” Several rights organisations have had their assets frozen and have had travel bans imposed on their directors and staffers. ECRF is no exception. One of the last few remaining independent rights organizations still operating in the country –despite the restrictive environment — the ECRF was the recipient of the 2018 Index on Censorship Freedom of Expression Campaigning Award. Despite the recognition, its staffers remain under threat.  The organisation sees Fathy’s arrest as setting a new “precedent in the practices used by security agencies to hamper the work of human rights organizations.”

It also perceives Fathy’s prosecution as “a warning message” ahead of a planned visit to Cairo next week by Italian prosecutors to review video footage captured by security cameras in the metro station where Regeni disappeared on January 25, 2016.

“It is shameful that this is how the security authorities choose to deal with ECRF one week before the Italian technical visit to Egypt ,” ECRF wrote in the 12 May statement posted on its Facebook page.[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]24/5/2018: An earlier version of this article incorrectly referred to a September 2019 Human Rights Watch report. The report dates from September 2017.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_basic_grid post_type=”post” max_items=”12″ style=”load-more” items_per_page=”4″ element_width=”6″ grid_id=”vc_gid:1527174085953-a3c45a99-4868-10″ taxonomies=”24135″][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Index on Censorship calls on Egypt to immediately release activist Amal Fathy

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Freedom of expression organisation Index on Censorship calls on Egypt to immediately release activist Amal Fathy, who was detained by police last Friday.

Fathy was arrested alongside her husband Mohamed Lotfy, director of the award-winning human rights organisation, the Egyptian Commission for Rights and Freedoms. Police raided the couple’s home in Cairo at 2.30 a.m. and took them and their 3-year-old child to the police station. Security officers searched their house, their mobile phones were seized and they were denied the right to communicate with a lawyer or family.

Lotfy and their child were released after three hours but Fathy has been ordered to remain in detention for 15 days on “on charges of incitement to overthrow the ruling system, publishing lies and misusing social media”.

On Wednesday, Fathy posted a video on her Facebook page in which she spoke about the prevalence of sexual harassment in Egypt, criticizing the government’s failure to protect women. She also criticised the government for deteriorating human rights, socioeconomic conditions and public services.

Rachael Jolley, editor of Index on Censorship, said: “This is just the latest attempt by the Egyptian government to stop the public being informed about what is going in their country. The authorities must release Amal Fathy immediately.”

Fathy’s husband is co-founder of the Egyptian Commission for Rights and Freedoms (ECRF). 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.

For more information, please contact Jodie Ginsberg at [email protected][/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_basic_grid post_type=”post” max_items=”12″ style=”load-more” items_per_page=”4″ element_width=”6″ grid_id=”vc_gid:1526299869862-1ce8ff4a-0268-2″ taxonomies=”147, 24135″][/vc_column][/vc_row]