top of page

EGYPT: ARBITRARY DETENTION OF STUDENT AND ACTIVIST AYA KAMAL ALDIN HUSSEIN SAYED

The International League Against Arbitrary Detention urges the Government of Egypt to take all the necessary actions to implement the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention Opinion No. 31/2023 concerning  Aya Kamal Aldin Hussein Sayed starting for the Government of Egypt to immediately and unconditionally release and to accord her an enforceable right to compensation and other reparations in accordance with international law.


Read the full WGAD Opinion concerning Aya Kamal Aldin Hussein Sayed (Egypt): Opinion No. 31/2023


SUBJECTED TO ENFORCED DISAPPEARANCE AND SEVERAL ARBITRARY ARRESTS IN THE LAST 10 YEARS


Aya Kamal Aldin Hussein Sayed is an Egyptian student, born on 19 March 1995. In October 2013,  Ms. Sayed participated in the 7 a.m. Movement protest in Al Fayyum against the military coup d’état of 2013. She has since been targeted by the authorities and subjected to several arrests and detentions, as well as ill-treatment on different charges related to fighting terrorism and protecting national security.


At 2 a.m. on 2 July 2022, uniformed and plain-clothes State security officers raided Ms. Sayed’s home and arrested her without showing a warrant or explaining the reasons for her arrest and subjected her to to enforced disappearance during 4 days, until 6 July 2022, after which she was brought before the Supreme State Security Prosecution, with her lawyer present. She was charged with joining a terrorist group, spreading false news and statements inside and outside the country, and misusing social media. On 28 November 2022, Ms. Sayed’s pretrial detention was extended for another 45 days. According to the source, she is currently being held in pretrial detention in Al-Qanater Prison for women, which is known for its inhumane conditions of detention, such as overcrowding and lack of proper ventilation and clean water.


The Working Group found that Ms. Sayed’s arrests and detentions were all arbitrary, lacking a legal basis as authorities failed to provide arrest warrants or explain the reasons for her apprehension. The Working Group also noted that the Government did not address allegations that police records failed to account for periods of enforced disappearance in violation of international law, hence placing Ms. Sayed was outside the protection of the law in breach of Article 6 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and Article 16 of the Covenant.


Considering these violations, the Working Group concluded that her arrests and detentions were devoid of any legal basis, thus rendering her deprivation of liberty arbitrary under Category I.


ACCUSED OF TERRORISM FOR LEGITIMATELY EXERCISING HER FUNDAMENTAL RIGHTS


The Working Group noted that Ms. Sayed's detention stemmed from her peaceful exercise of fundamental rights, including freedom of opinion, expression, assembly, association, and participation in public affairs. While the Government alleged that Ms. Sayed was arrested for her involvement with a terrorist group, intentional dissemination of false information, and misuse of the international information network, no evidence or clarification has been provided regarding which specific activities justified these charges. The Working Group recalled that freedom of opinion, expression, assembly, and association are protected under articles 19 and 20 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and articles 19 and 21 of the Covenant. Similarly, the right to participate in government affairs is enshrined in Article 21 of the Universal Declaration and Article 25 of the Covenant.


Therefore, the Working Group concluded that Ms. Sayed's detention was arbitrary, falling under Category II, as it stemmed from her peaceful exercise of her fundamental rights.


SUBJECTED TO TORTURE AND BLATANT VIOLATIONS OF HER RIGHT TO A FAIR TRIAL


Ms. Sayed was subjected to torture, including beatings, electrocution, and threats of violence against her and her family members. Following a decision to release her, she allegedly faced psychological torture to coerce her into recording a video denying her poor health and detention conditions. The Working Group recalled that such acts of torture and ill-treatment are grave violations of human rights and severely hinder an individual's ability to defend themselves, thereby undermining the right to a fair trial.


Moreover, although Ms. Sayed had access to legal counsel during her interrogation, she could not consult with her lawyer privately. She and her lawyer were reportedly denied access to evidence related to the accusations against her and were not provided with case files or investigation details. The Working Group also observed that Ms. Sayed's enforced disappearances for eight days after her second arrest and four days after her third, deprived her of immediate access to legal counsel. These violations infringed upon Ms. Sayed's right to prepare her defense adequately and communicate with counsel freely, compromising her ability to defend herself effectively.


For the above reasons, the Working Group concluded that the deprivation of liberty of Ms. Sayed was arbitrary under Category III.


TARGETED FOR HER POLITICAL VIEWS AND ACTIVISM AS A HUMAN RIGHT DEFENDER


The Working Group noted that Ms. Sayed arbitrary arrests and detentions constituted discriminations based on her political views, since the Government failed to provide evidence demonstrating that any of Ms. Sayed’s actions constituted criminal activity. Consequently, the Working Group concluded that Ms. Sayed was deprived of her liberty on discriminatory grounds, specifically due to her status as a human rights defender and her political beliefs aimed at holding the authorities accountable.


These violations contravene Articles 2 and 7 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and 2(1) and 26 of the Covenant and rendered Ms. Sayed's deprivations of liberty arbitrary under Category V.


CONCLUSIONS OF THE UN WORKING GROUP AGAINST ARBITRARY DETENTION


In light of the foregoing, the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention considered that the detention of Ms. Aya Kamal Aldin Hussein Sayed was arbitrary and fell under categories  I, II, III and V because her deprivation of liberty was in contravention of articles 2, 3, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 19, 20 and 21 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and articles 2, 9, 14, 16, 19, 21, 25 and 26 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.


The United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention recommended that the Government of Egypt take the necessary steps to remedy the situation of Ms. Aya Kamal Aldin Hussein Sayed without delay and bring it into conformity with the relevant international norms, including those set out in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. The Working Group recommended the immediate release of Ms. Aya Kamal Aldin Hussein Sayed and emphasized the need for compensation and other reparations in line with international law. Additionally, it called for a thorough and independent investigation into the circumstances of her arbitrary detention and urged appropriate action against those responsible for violating her rights.



Comments


Commenting has been turned off.
bottom of page