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  • Middle East and North Africa

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Last updated: 2 Jul

Human rights defender's story: Ibrahim Metwally Hegazy

Story behind

Ibrahim Metwally Hegazy is a human rights defender and lawyer working on the issue of enforced disappearances. He is a co-founder and the coordinator of the Association of the Families of the Disappeared in Egypt.

The network focuses on assisting families in locating and investigating the fate of forcibly or involuntarily disappeared loved ones. Metwally Hegazy founded the organisaton following the disappearance of his own son in July 2013, whose whereabouts remain unknown.

In September 2017, while on his way to Geneva at the invitation of the United Nations Working Group on Enforced and Involuntary Disappearances, he was disappeared for two days, and was subsequently arbitrarily detained. Five years later, he is still in detention.

What happened

The Working Group on Enforced and Involuntary Disappearances invited Ibrahim Metwally Hegazy to participate in its 113th session for the examination of Egypt in September 2017, in Geneva. While traveling, the lawyer was disappeared and later arbitrarily detained.

Because of his vital work as a human rights defender, he was charged by the Egyptian government with ‘founding and leading an illegal terrorist organisation, conspiracy with foreign entities or organisations to harm State security, and spreading false information’.In reality, Ibrahim Metwally Hegazy’s work and dedication has supported dozens of families dealing with anger and grief at their loved ones’ forced disappearance. He was detained in the maximum security section of the Aqrab prison (Tora) and subjected to ill-treatment and torture in detention. Abuses against Metwally intensified and his conditions of detention are extremely poor. Despite suffering from acute medical problems, he has been denied examination by medical specialists.

On 14 August 2019, the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention adopted an Opinion finding Metwally’s detention was arbitrary, and noting that his detention amounts to an act of retaliation for cooperation with the United Nations. The Working Group considered that Metwally should be released immediately and receive compensation and other reparations.

On 13 November 2019, Special Procedures mandate holders filed a communication raising concern about the continued detention of Metwally, stressing that he ‘has been detained in conditions which amount to torture.

What do we want

We want the case of Ibrahim Metwally Hegazy to be widely recognised as constituting an act of reprisal related to his engagement with the UN. We want him to be freed, and we call on States to publicly raise his case during the Interactive Dialogue with the Assistant Secretary-General at the 51st Session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva.

What do we want

We want the case of Ibrahim Metwally Hegazy to be widely recognised as constituting an act of reprisal related to his engagement with the UN. We want him to be freed, and we call on States to publicly raise his case during the Interactive Dialogue with the Assistant Secretary-General at the 51st Session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva.

How you can take action

Join us in calling on States to #EndReprisals against human rights defenders!

Write to State representatives at the UN and urge them to take up Ibrahim Metwally Hegazy’s case and those of human rights defenders and organisations from Belarus, Burundi, China and Venezuela during the Human Rights Council 51st session.