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Case History: Esraa Abdel Fattah

Status: 
Detained
About the situation

On 13 October 2019, the Supreme Public Prosecution of Egypt ordered the fifteen day preventive detention of woman human rights defender and journalist Esraa Abdel Fattah.

On 4 October 2018, four years and nine months after a travel ban was issued against Esraa Abdel Fattah, the journalist and woman human rights defender was officially summoned for an interrogation in relation to the “Foreign Funding Case”. The interrogation of Esraa Abdel Fattah is scheduled for Tuesday, 9 October 2018.

On the morning of 13 January 2015, police officers at Cairo International Airport stopped human rights defender Ms Esraa Abdel Fattah from boarding a flight to Germany, and informed her that this was due to a judicial travel ban issued against her.

About Esraa Abdel Fattah

Esraa Abdel FattahEsraa Abdel Fattah is a woman human rights defender and journalist at al-Tahrir newspaper. She was project manager at the Egyptian Democratic Academy, a non-governmental organization that promotes the use of new media tools to foster democracy and human rights. Esraa Abdel Fattah is known for her efforts to promote workers' rights and democracy; she began her human rights work in 2008, when she co-founded the April 6 Movement.

15 October 2019
Torture and ongoing detention of woman human rights defender Esraa Abdel Fattah

On 13 October 2019, the Supreme Public Prosecution of Egypt ordered the fifteen day preventive detention of woman human rights defender and journalist Esraa Abdel Fattah. On the day of her arrest, 12 October 2019, she was beaten and tortured, and has begun an open-ended hunger strike in protest.

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Esraa Abdel Fattah is a woman human rights defender and journalist at al-Tahrir newspaper. She was project manager at the Egyptian Democratic Academy, a non-governmental organization that promotes the use of new media tools to foster democracy and human rights. Esraa Abdel Fattah is known for her efforts to promote workers' rights and democracy; she began her human rights work in 2008, when she co-founded the April 6 Movement.

On 12 October around 19:30, Egyptian security forces in plain clothes stopped Esraa Abdel Fattah’s car and arrested her. Following her detention for 24 hours in an unknown location, Esraa Abdel Fattah appeared at the Supreme Public Persecution on 13 October 2019, which ordered her preventive detention for 15 days. The human rights defender is facing charges of “joining an illegal organisation”, “defamation and the spread of false news” and “misuse of social media”.

Esraa Abdel Fattah was tortured while in police custody. Her lawyer has stated that during her 24 hour interrogation she was blindfolded, handcuffed and severely beaten. She was forced to give up the password to her phone or be subjected to electric shocks and was further physically attacked by a police officer once she complied. Despite suffering from bodily bruising, Esraa Abdel Fattah has been denied medical assistance. She is being detained at a local police station in Cairo where family and lawyer visits have been banned. She will be transferred to Al-Qanateer women’s prison on 15 October 2019.

Esraa Abdel Fattah has been frequently harassed and detained by the Egyptian authorities. She has been under a travel ban since January 2015 and was repeatedly summoned and interrogated in connection with case 173/2011, otherwise known as the “foreign funding” case.

Front Line Defenders is deeply concerned about the continued detention and judicial harassment of human rights defenders in Egypt. Front Line Defenders believes that the detention and torture of Esraa Abdel Fattah was solely motivated by her peaceful and legitimate work in defence of human rights.

 

8 October 2018
Esraa Abdel Fattah Summoned for Interrogation

On 4 October 2018, four years and nine months after a travel ban was issued against Esraa Abdel Fattah, the journalist and woman human rights defender was officially summoned for an interrogation in relation to the “Foreign Funding Case”. In May 2013, 43 staff members of international NGOs were sentenced to prison terms ranging from one to five years on charges of “using foreign funding to foment unrest”. The interrogation of Esraa Abdel Fattah is scheduled for Tuesday, 9 October 2018, at 11 a.m.

28 March 2017
HRD Appeals Travel Ban

On 28 March, the Cairo Administrative Court heard Esraa Abdel-Fattah in a case she brought against a decision by the Egyptian General Attorney imposing a travel ban against her. A hearing to announce the outcome of the trial is expected to take place on 9 May 2017.

8 December 2015
Petition submitted by Esraa Abdel Fattah against travel ban rejected

On 7 December 2015, the Criminal Court of South Cairo District rejected the petition submitted on behalf of human rights defender Ms Esraa Abdel Fattah by her lawyers against the travel ban issued against her.

The travel ban against Esraa Abdel Fattah was upheld by the Cairo Administrative Court on 16 June 2015, following a lawsuit filed by the human rights defender demanding that the travel ban issued against her by the Public Prosecutor be revoked. She became aware of the ban on 13 January 2015, as she attempted to board a flight to Germany. She had received no prior notification of the travel ban and has not been informed of the reasons for it.

16 June 2015
Travel ban against Esraa Abdel Fattah upheld

On 16 June 2015, the Cairo Administrative Court upheld the travel ban imposed on human rights defender Ms Esraa Abdel Fattah.

The decision followed a lawsuit filed by Esraa Abdel Fattah demanding that the travel ban issued against her by the Public Prosecutor be revoked. The human rights defender became aware of the ban when it was invoked against her on 13 January 2015, as she attempted to board a flight to Germany. She had received no prior notification of the travel ban.

14 January 2015
Travel ban imposed on prominent human rights defender Ms Esraa Abdel Fattah

On the morning of 13 January 2015, police officers at Cairo International Airport stopped human rights defender Ms Esraa Abdel Fattah from boarding a flight to Germany, and informed her that this was due to a judicial travel ban issued against her. Esraa Abdel Fattah had not received prior notification of the travel ban.

The refusal to allow Esraa Abdel Fattah to fly is one of a series of travel bans imposed on human rights defenders in Egypt, including against Messrs Hossameldin Ali and Ahmed Ghonim, President and Vice President of the Egyptian Democratic Academy, respectively. Those defenders were stopped at the Cairo International Airport on 5 December 2014 and informed of the travel bans issued against them. Several weeks later, after repeated contact with the Office of the Public Prosecutor, they were told that the ban was ordered in connection with an ongoing judicial investigation into illegal foreign funding allegedly received by human rights organisations, which began in 2011. However, neither defender has been summoned for interrogation or officially notified of the travel bans.

The restrictions imposed on Egyptian civil society have been continuously intensifying over recent years with the criminalisation of their work, stigmatisation in both public and private media, suffocating legal requirements and restrictions on access to funding. As previously highlighted by Front Line Defenders, in July 2014, Egypt’s Ministry of Social Solidarity publicly warned human rights NGOs to register under Association Law No.84/2002 or be prosecuted.