Gasser Abdel-Razek in Danger. EIPR holds Public Prosecution fully responsible
Supreme State Security Prosecution (SSSP) summoned from jail Gasser Abdel-Razek, Executive Director of the Egypian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR), today 23 November 2020, to resume interrogating him on charges of ‘joining a terrorist organisation with prior knowledge of its objectives’ and ‘using social media accounts to spread false information that may harm public peace’. He is held on account of case 855/2020.
EIPR’s defense team were able to see Abdel-Razek for the first time since his arrest on Thursday 19 November. He said during the interrogation he received inhumane and degrading treatment in his cell that puts his health and safety in danger. He further elaborated that he was never allowed out of the cell, had only a metal bed to sleep on with neither mattress nor covers, save for a light blanket, was deprived of all his possessions and money, was given only two light pieces of summer garments, and was denied the right to use his own money to purchase food and essentials from the prison’s cantine. His head was shaved completely.
The lawyers made sure Abdel-Razek’s statement on prison conditions were recorded, and demanded an immediate judicial inspection on site to identify those responsible for such mistreatment. The lawyers will tomorrow submit an official complaint to the General Prosecutor detailing the mistreatment Abdel-Razek is receiving.
Abdel-Razek was arrested on Thursday 19 November, one day after the arrest of Karim Ennarah, EIPR’s Criminal Justice Director, and the arrest of Mohamed Basheer, the organization’s Administrative Manager, on 15 November. The three colleagues face similar charges of ‘membership of a terrorist organization’ and ‘using social media accounts to publish false news and information that may harm public peace and security’. None of the three defendants were presented with any evidence or investigation reports to support such spurious charges.
The interrogations themselves focused on EIPR’s activities in recent years, particularly its documentation of human rights violations in places of detention, and the unprecedented spike in death sentences and executions. The same line of investigation was pursued today with Abdel-Razek as the prosecutor questioned him on 18 public statements and reports related to the Egyptian criminal justice system. This focus serves as further evidence of our assessment: EIPR is facing a coordinated assault to punish us for the totality of our activism
The Egyptian authorities violated the constitution and the law by arresting our colleagues, keeping them blindfolded for long hours at national security premises, interrogating them without legal counsel, and holding them in pretrial detention without any grounds, but that was not enough. The authorities are deliberately mistreating Abderl-Razek in this manner, further violating the constitution and the law. Article 55 of the constitution states that “[e]very person who is either arrested, detained, or his freedom is restricted shall be treated in a manner that preserves his dignity. He/she may not be tortured, intimidated, coerced, or physically or morally harmed; and may not be seized or detained except in places designated for that purpose, which shall be adequate on human and health levels.”. Even article 82 of the Prison Regulations, concerned with maximum security holding cells, has health requirements for such a cell that are not met in Abdel-Razek’s case, despite the fact that Abdel-Razek is in pretrial detention and is not serving a sentence, and we have not been aware that he is receiving a maximum security holding treatment.
Since, according to article 55 of the Egyptian constitution, prisons are subject to judicial supervision, we hold the Public Prosecution fully responsible for the health and safety of Gasser Abdel-Razek, gravely endangered by the conditions of his detention, and demand its immediate response to our lawyers by inspecting Abdel-Razek’s holding cell and identifying those responsible for his inhumane treatment We also reiterate our demand for the immediate release of Gasser Abdel-Razek, Karim Ennarah, Mohamed Basheer, and Patrick Zaki--EIPR’s staff member held since February on similar charges--and dropping all charges against them.
Finally, the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights expresses its deep gratitude for the remarkable national and international solidarity campaign in support of our four colleagues. In this campaign we see the essence of our mission: principled and unconditional alignment with all victims of economic deprivation, social marginalization and political tyranny in our world. We invite all believers in this mission, in Egypt and across the world, to intensity and continue their solidarity until our four colleagues, whose imprisonment is but one corner of a larger picture portraying systemic violation of constitutionally enshrined rights, and a travesty of the principle of rule of law unseen before our country, are set free.