Continued disappearance of Dr. Ahmed Amasha
On 1 April 2017, Ahmad Amasha appeared before the State Security Prosecution in New Cairo. He was interrogated in the absence of a lawyer. Dr Amasha was presented again to the prosecution on 12 April and as a result he is expected to remain in detention for a few more days. Dr Amasha is being accused under the contested terrorism legislation that has been lately used to crackdown on human rights defenders in Egypt. According to a testimony given by Dr Amasha on 12 April, the human rights defender has been subjected to physical and psychological torture and ill-treatment while in detention.
Ahmed Amasha is an Egyptian human rights defender and co-founder of the League for Families of the Disappeared. The league is a forum for families of victims of enforced disappearance, providing legal support for its members and helping them to file complaints to the office of the public prosecutor in cases of disappearances. The league also organises media campaigns for the disappeared as well as pubic rallies in front of the Press syndicate. It has also organised seminars and workshops with human rights organisations, such as El Nadeem Centre, the Hisham Muabrak Law Center, and the Egyptian Commission for Rights and Freedoms. Ahmed Amasha is also a member of the “Kefaya” opposition movement, a trade unionist and an active environmental rights defender. Ahmed Amasha is a veterinarian and head of the veterinarian syndicate.
On 10 March 2017, human rights defender Dr. Ahmed Amasha disappeared following his arrest at a police checkpoint in Cairo. It has been six days since his enforced disappearance and the Egyptian authorities have yet to release any information concerning the human rights defender.
Several witnesses, including Ahmed Amasha’s family members, saw the arrest of the human rights defender by Egyptian state officials at a police checkpoint in Nasr, Cairo. Egyptian officials have since refused to provide any information about the arrest, where he is being detained, or any charges against him. In the past few months, the human rights defender has been particularly active in providing support for El Nadeem Centre, whose premises were closed on 9 February 2017. Twelve Egyptian human rights organisations and several human rights defenders issued a statement in support of Ahmed Amasha, condemning his disappearance and demanding that the Egyptian Ministry of the Interior and the General Prosecutor of Egypt reveal the location of Ahmed Amasha and ensure that enforced disappearances stop.
The number of cases of enforced disappearance in Egypt is increasing. This tactic is often used to extract forced evidence in fabricated cases as a way to deter human rights defenders from carrying out their work. According to El Nadeem Centre, people who have disappeared in Egypt are likely to experience isolation, intimidation and quite frequently torture as a means to extract forced confessions. Front Line Defenders expresses its deep concern about the physical safety and security of Ahmed Amasha as it believes that he is being targeted solely as a result of his legitimate and peaceful work in the defence of human rights.
Front Line Defenders urges the authorities in Egypt to:
1. Take all necessary measures to ensure the immediate and unconditional release of Ahmed Amasha and guarantee his physical and psychological security and integrity;
2. Ensure that the treatment of Ahmed Amasha, while in detention, adheres to the conditions set out in the ‘Body of Principles for the Protection of All Persons under Any Form of Detention or Imprisonment', adopted by UN General Assembly resolution 43/173 of 9 December 1988;
3. Ensure that Ahmed Amasha has not been forced or coerced into making false confessions, and allow him immediate and unfettered access to his lawyers;
4. Carry out an immediate, thorough and impartial investigation into the disappearance of human rights defender Ahmed Amasha, with a view to ensuring his protection and release, publishing the results and bringing those responsible to justice in accordance with international standards;
5. Guarantee in all circumstances that all human rights defenders in Egypt are able to carry out their legitimate human rights activities without fear of reprisals and free of all restrictions including judicial harassment.