URGENT INTERVENTION - OBSERVATORY

EGY 001 / 9708 / OBS 005
Arrest of a human rights defender
Cairo - Egypt
15th August 1997

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, an FIDH and OMCT venture, requests your URGENT intervention in the following situation in Egypt.

Brief description of the situation :

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders has been informed by the Egyptian Organisation for Human Rights (EOHR), a member of the SOS-Torture network, of the arrest of Mr. Sayyed Ahmad Al-Tokhi, a lawyer, a member of the Egyptian Organisation for Human Rights (EOHR) and a lawyer at the EOHR's Fieldwork Unit.

According to information received, Mr. Sayyed Ahmad Al-Tokhi was arrested on Saturday 9 August 1997 at 11:00 p.m. while boarding a plane to the United Arab Emirates after having obtained the necessary visa.

Mr. Sayyed Ahmad Al-Tokhi was held all night in the office of the State Security Investigations at Cairo airport. The next morning, Sunday 10 August, he was referred to the State Security Prosecution Office, which postponed his interrogation to the following day. No charges were brought against him. Mr. Sayyed Ahmad Al-Tokhi was then taken to Al-Nozha police station without being interrogated. On Monday 11 August, he was taken to the State Security Prosecution Office, where he was interrogated in the presence of some lawyers, one of them from the EOHR.

Mr. Sayyed Ahmad Al-Tokhi was charged under the provisions of Article 86 (bis) of the Penal Code with verbally promoting ideas which contradict the fundamental principles of the ruling regime, inciting hatred and contempt of the present regime, hindering the implementation of the law and the Constitutional principles and inciting opposition to the authorities.

Mr. Sayyed Ahmad Al-Tokhi was transferred to Istikbal Tora Prison after the prosecution ordered his detention for 15 days pending investigations.

On 15 August 1997, the EOHR was denied, by the Emergency High State Security Prosecution, a visit permit to visit him. Mr. Mr. Sayyed Ahmad Al-Tokhi has gone on a 24-hour hunger strike after the prison administration of El-Mahkoum Tora Prison, where he was held before being transferred to Mazraat Tora Prison on the night of Tuesday, August 12, shaved his head and locked him up in a cell full of rubbish all night.

Mr. Sayyed Ahmad Al-Tokhi is currently imprisoned at Mazraat Tora Prison.

Law 96 which will come into force in October 1997, raises agricultural rent and permits eviction. It replaces the laws put into place by Nasser which protected the rights of tenant farmers. In the context of this change over the past months, security forces have used violence to disperse meetings and marches organised by farmers, apparently resulting in the death and injury of a number of people. The EOHR fears that the incidents may be a prelude to further restrictive measures on the part of the authorities against political and popular forces opposing the implementation of Law 96 of 1992,. They further express concern that implementation of law 96 will lead to serious social unrest that may threaten the security and stability of the whole country. It should be noted that last June, Mr. Sayyed Ahmad Al-Tokhi attended a conference in the village of Kafr Mowes, Banha, Kalyoubya, to discuss Law 96 of 1992 and it is firmly believed that his arrest is connected to this.

The Observatory would like to stress that the arrest of a human rights activist is a violation of the freedoms of opinion and expression guaranteed by the Egyptian Constitution, and of Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. The Observatory warns against extending the use of Article 86 (bis) of the Penal Code to include all forms of peaceful expression.

Action Requested:

Please write to the Egyptian authorities urging them to:

  1. guarantee the physical and psychological integrity of Mr. Sayyed Ahmad Al-Tokhi;
  2. order the immediate release of Mr. Sayyed Ahmad Al-Tokhi if he is detained without valid charges or, if such charges exist, bring him before a competent tribunal and guarantee his procedural rights at all times;
  3. publically declare their support for the right of individuals, groups and public bodies to promote and protect universally recognised human rights and fundamental freedoms
  4. urgently adopt appropriate measures to ensure that non-governmental human rights organisations, including EOHR, their members and leaders enjoy the necessary guarantees for carrying out their activities in favour of the promotion, respect and defence of fundamental rights and liberties;
  5. ensure in all circumstances respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in accordance with national laws and international standards.
Addresses:

His Excellency Mohammad Hosni Mubarak,
President of the Arab Republic of Egypt,
┬┤Abedine Palace, Cairo, Egypt.
Telex : 93794 WAZRA UN

His Excellency General Hassan al-Afly, Minister of the Interior,
Ministry of the Interior, Al-Sheikh Rihan Street,
Bab al-Louk, Cairo, Egypt.
Telex : 21361 MOICM UN - Fax : + 202 355 7792

His Excellency Mr. Faruq Sayf Al-Nasr, Minister of Justice,
Ministry of Justice,
Midan Lazoghly,
Cairo, Egypt.
Fax : + 202 355 8103

Geneva, Paris, 15 August 1997

Kindly inform The Observatory of any action undertaken quoting the code number of the present appeal.

Ben Schonveld
Projects Manager
OMCT-SOS-Torture
Fax 4122 733 1051
Ph 4122 733 3140
OMCT is: l'Organisation Mondiale contre la Torture/ The World Organisation Against Torture

OMCT@IPROLINK.CH
http://www.omct.org/

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