Egypt: ill-treatment and continued detention of Oqaba Alaa Labib Hashad and Mohamed Ibrahim Radwan (joint communication)

BACKGROUND

On 3 September 2021, I wrote a joint communication to the Government of Egypt regarding the contiuued arbitrary detention and alleged ill-treatment of Mr. Oqaba Alaa Labib Hashad and Mr. Mohamed Ibrahim Radwan.

Mr. Radwan has been the subject of several communications sent by Special Procedures’ mandate holders, including EGY 14/2018 and EGY 19/2020, in which we raised concerns about his alleged arbitrary detention. The Government responded to EGY 12/2018, however we regret to inform you that at the time of writing, no response has been received in relation to the allegations raised in EGY 19/2020.

ALLEGATIONS      

Mr. Oqaba Alaa Labib Hashad

Mr. Oqaba Alaa Labib Hashad is an Egyptian citizen and university student from the Menoufia Governorate. At the age of 6, he underwent surgery to amputate part of his right leg from below the knee. His disability means that he is unable to walk without his prosthetic limb. Mr. Hashad is not politically active and has no political affiliations. His brother, Mr. Amr Alaa Labib Hashad, is an Egyptian lawyer and human rights defender currently residing abroad who was previously imprisoned in relation to his defence of students rights in Egypt.

On 20 May 2019, several National Security Agents and policemen forcibly entered Mr. Hashad’s student accommodation in Sadat City, Menoufia Governorate. They allegedly proceeded to violently search his residence, breaking furniture in the process and then arrested Mr. Hashad and other students without presenting a warrant. All the other students, except Mr. Hashad, were released in the hours and days following the arrest.

Mr. Hashad was forcibly disappeared for almost 75 days after his arrest, and was taken to an undisclosed location alleged to be the National Security premises inside Menoufia Security Directorate. During this period of enforced disappearance, Mr. Hashad was allegedly subjected to physical and psychological torture, including being stripped of his clothes, hanged from the ceiling of a room, and electrocuted on different areas of his body including his amputated leg and genital areas. It was also reported that an officer tied a rope to his neck and dragged him on the floor referring to him as a dog. During this torture, the officers threatened to arrest and harm other members of his family. Furthermore, Mr. Hashad suffers from haemophilia and as a result of the torture he was subjected to, had to receive urgent medical treatment from a doctor while being held incommunicado .

On 1 August 2019, Mr. Hashad appeared for the first time since his enforced disappearance. He was brought before the Shebein Al-Koum Prosecution and charged with “joining a group established against the rule of law”, “participating in demonstrations to overthrow the regime”, and “possessing a pistol”. It is believed that Mr. Hashad was charged in connection with a case known as Ashmoun case, however the exact case number could not be verified as his lawyer was not allowed to view the case file.

Later that day, on 1 August 2019, Mr. Hashad’s lawyer was permitted to attend the interrogation session at the Prosecution office. The date of arrest recorded by the Prosecution office was 1 August 2019, ignoring the previous 75 days during which he was allegedly forcibly disappeared. The prosecutor ordered Mr. Hashad’s 15-day pre-trial detention at Shebin Al-Koum deportations prison, subject to renewal.

On 5 September 2019, Mr. Hashad was transferred to Shebin Al-Koum Public Prison where he remains at the time of writing. It has been reported that Mr. Hashad was subjected to inhumane detention conditions and ill-treatment at Shebin Al-Koum Public Prison.

In January 2021, Mr. Hashad was called to the office of the head of investigations in the prison and allegedly was told that he would be punished as a result of a human rights report released by his brother a week earlier. The head officer then ordered for Mr. Hashad’s prosthetic leg to be taken away from him. Reportedly, his assistive device still has not been returned to him, making everyday tasks extremely challenging and making him even more vulnerable in the context of his detention. The prison officers only permit Mr. Hashad to wear his prosthetic limb when he attends renewal sessions on occasion.

On 5 March 2021, it is reported that Mr. Hashad complained about being deprived of the use of his prosthetic leg during a routine inspection by the Prison Authority. The following day, the head of investigations in the prison allegedly slapped him, shaved his head, took away all his personal belongings, and put him in solitary confinement where he remained for three months. Family visits were also prohibited during this time.

Between 16 and 18 June 2021, Mr. Hashad was transferred to Wadi Al Natroun Prison 440 to sit his university exams. When he returned to Shebin Al-Koum Public Prison, he was placed in a 2×3 metres cell with 8 others, where he did not have sufficient access to sanitation facilities. Since the beginning of his detention in August 2019, Mr. Hashad’s health condition has seriously deteriorated. It has been reported that Mr. Hashad is now permitted family visits but remains without the use of his prosthetic leg.

Since his initial interrogation on 1 August 2019, Mr. Hashad’s pre-trial detention has been continually renewed and extended pending investigation. These renewals were allegedly completed on paper, often without the presence of Mr. Hashad’s legal representation or Mr. Hashad himself, who either remained in prison or in the deportation vehicle. No trial date has ever been set. The latest renewal session took place on 1 August 2021, during which the prosecutor ruled for a further 45-day extension. Mr. Hashad allegedly remained in the deportation vehicle during this renewal session.

The case of Mr. Mohamed Ibrahim Radwan

Mr. Mohamed Ibrahim Radwan is a human rights defender who runs a YouTube channel and Facebook page called Oxygen Egypt, where he publishes videos, audio-visual and written reports on human rights, political, and socio-economic issues in Egypt.

As detailed in previous communications EGY 14/2018 and EGY 19/2020, Mr. Radwan was re-arrested on 21 September 2019 while reporting to a local police station in Cairo, in line with his precautionary measures. On 8 October 2019, the Supreme State Prosecution charged Mr. Radwan with “membership of a terrorist organisation”, “defamation”, and “misuse of social media”. Since then, he has had his preventive detention periodically renewed and continually extended.

On 24 August 2020, he was transferred to Tora Maximum-Security Prison 2 , where he has allegedly been subjected to ill-treatment. Mr. Radwan has been denied family visits and access to his lawyer since March 2020 and has been allegedly denied the ability to access money sent by family members to pay for essential goods within the prison.

On 3 November 2020, the Cairo Criminal Court granted the human rights defender release under precautionary measures. On 10 November 2020, the State Public Prosecutor accused Mr. Radwan of being involved in another case, case No. 855, and charged him with “joining a terrorist group”.

 It has been reported that during the Eid al’Adha holiday 2021, Mr. Radwan attempted to commit suicide in prison as a result of his ongoing detention and arbitrary measures against him.At the time of writing, Mr. Radwan remains in pre-trial detention in Tora Maximum-Security Prison 2.

CONCERNS

In the communication we conveyed to the Government that we remain concerned about the ongoing arbitrary detention of both Mr. Hashad and human rights defender Mr. Radwan, which appear to be in response to either their human rights work or connection to human rights defenders.

In the case of Mr. Hashad, we are concerned that although he is not an active human rights defender himself, he has been targeted, arbitrarly arrested, forcibly disappeared, tortured and detained as a result of his brother’s legitimate role as a human rights defender and is at risk of being criminalised on national security related charges. We believe that the targeting of Mr. Hashad illustrates the apparent deliberate pattern of retaliation by the Egyptian authorities against family members of human rights defenders.

We are concerned about the alleged ill-treatment and inhumane conditions of detention of both Mr. Hashad and Mr. Radwan. In Mr. Hashad’s case, the allegations of ill-treatment during his incommunicado detention and allegedly subjected to enforced disappearance may amount to torture and are in contravention of its absolute and non-derogable prohibtion. Of particular concern is that the prison authorities have denied access and continue to deprive Mr. Hashad of the use of his prosthetic leg. Further, we are concerned by his inhumane prison conditions, including solitary confinement, physical assault against him, lack of access to adequate sanitary facilities, in an overcrowded prison. Furthermore, we are concerned about the physical and mental well being of Mr. Radwan who has allegedly attempted suicide due to the conditions of detention.

The ongoing, prolonged pre-trial detention of both Mr. Hashad and Mr. Radwan highlights the strategy of the Egyptian authorities in which they continuously renew and extend the detention of imprisoned individuals, including human rights defenders for prolonged periods. (See OL EGY 4/2020).

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