Freedom for Dr. Taher Mokhtar

Press Release

17 January 2016

 The undersigned organizations demand the immediate release of Dr. Taher Mokhtar, member of the freedom committee at the Egyptian doctors' syndicate after security forces raided his residence on Thursday the 14th of January and arrested him and two friends who were present in the flat.

On Thursday, about 2 pm security forces raided the residence of Dr. Taher Mokhtar in Falaki street. With him in the flat were his friends Hossam Eldin Hammad, student at the faculty of engineering and Ahmed Hassan student at the faculty of law. Security forces searched the flat and then took the three young men in a microbus to Abdeen police station.

The police station they were interrogated by state security officers for 9 hours in complete isolation, while lawyers were prevented from attending, meeting them or gaining access to the minutes of the interrogation nor any knowledge of the charges against them. They were later told that Mokhtar and his colleagues will be questioned by the Abdeen prosecution the following day.

The following day, Friday the 15th of January Mokhtar and his friends were questioned by the prosecution which accused them of possession of publications that call for the overthrow of the regime in case no. 498/2016 and decided to extend their detention for 4 days pending investigations.

Dr. Mokhtar is a prominent health activist, concerned with health conditions in places of detention and is a member of the campaign titled "Medical Neglect in Places of Detention is a Crime", a campaign that aims to advocate for provision of the right to health and medical care for prisoners in places of detention in Egypt. Mokhtar is also an active member of the rights and freedom committee at the Doctors' syndicate, which released a statement on its website clarifying that Mokhtar has been entrusted by the syndicate's council as a member in its rights and freedom committee to follow up health conditions of prisoners. Statements demanding a reform of health conditions and describing medical neglect in prisons as a crime is not a criminal breach. Egyptian law describes medical neglect as a crime and the constitution in article 18 establishes health as a right for all citizens.

Security authorities are determined to close public space and tighten its grip on freedom of expression as well as harass activists and human rights defenders. Also, recent events and the constant persecution and arrests over more than one month on known activists as well as fabrication of charges does not leave much space for optimism. Authorities are indiscriminately harassing citizens without clear charges, which are mostly fabricated, while violating the most basic rights through illegal detention, as well as depriving individuals of the right to defense and presence of their lawyers, sending a clear message of intimidation with the approach of the fifth anniversary of the 25th January revolution.

It is therefore that the undersigned strongly condemn the arrest of Taher Mokhtar, Hossam Eldin Hammad and Ahmed Hasssan and demand their immediate release.

Signatories in alphabetical orders

Arabic Network for Human Rights Information

Association for Freedom of Thought and Expression

Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies

Center for women Legal aid

Egyptian Association for Enhancement of community Participation

Egyptian commission for rights and freedoms

The Egyptian Center for Economic and Social Rights

Egyptian foundation for promotion of child's rights

Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights

Hisham Mubarak Law Center

Nadim Center for Psychological Rehabilitation of victims of violence

National community for Human rights and Law

Nazra for feminist studies

Masryoon Against Religious Discrimination