I´m writing you on behalf of Habitat International Coalition (HIC) (http://www.hic-gs.org/), the global network for rights related to habitat. HIC struggles for social justice, gender equality, and environmental sustainability, and works in the defence, promotion and realization of human rights related to housing and land in both rural and urban areas. HIC is a nongovernmental organization granted with Special Consultative Status with United Nation’s Economic and Social Council since 1993.
HIC wants to express its profound concern regarding the arrest and detention of the Egyptian human rights lawyer Mohamed Ramadan. He is a respected advocate known for defending housing and labor rights and offering legal representation for human rights defenders and victims of torture in Egypt.
According to credible sources, Mr. Ramadan was arrested on 10 December 2018 by plainclothes security officers and taken to the National Security Agency headquarters in Alexandria. With his family and lawyers not informed of his whereabouts until the next day, Mr. Ramadan was held in police custody in pre-trial detention since his arrest. Recently there have been reports that he transferred to the Borj Al Arab prison in Alexandria. In detention, Mr. Ramadan has reportedly been subjected to solitary confinement without sanitary facilities, contrary to established human rights standards. The Mandela Rules ban indefinite or prolonged solitary confinement, including for periods for more than 15 consecutive days.
As a result of allegedly possessing yellow vests, Mr. Ramadan is facing charges of belonging to a banned group, spreading false news through social media and provoking social unrest.
We understand that Mohamed Ramadan has been subject to judicial harassment and criminalization previously, as a result of his legitimate defense of human rights in Egypt. In April 2017, he was falsely accused under the counter-terrorism law and sentenced in absentia to 10 years in prison, 5 years of house arrest and a 5-year ban on using the internet. He was subsequently released in August of that year. We have also been made aware that Mr. Ramadan was questioned, about his role in informing international bodies about human rights concerns in Egypt, and that he has faced reprisals as a result of those communications.
As a member of the international human rights community We are deeply concerned that these incidents are part of a wider pattern of harassment and criminalization of human rights defenders in Egypt. Individuals or groups recognized regionally and internationally for their legitimate work to advance and defend human rights in Egypt should not be targeted.
We respectfully remind Your Excellency that, as a party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), Egypt has guaranteed that everyone has the right to liberty and security of person; freedom from torture or cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment; protection against arbitrary arrest or detention; presumption of innocence, and due process of law. Egypt must ensure that all persons deprived of their liberty be treated with humanity and with respect for their inherent dignity.
The ICCPR establishes the rights to freedom of opinions without interference, freedom of association, and freedom of expression. This includes the freedom to seek, receive and impart information of all kinds. Further, the UN Declaration on the Rights of Human Rights Defenders establishes obligations on states to take all necessary measures to ensure the protection of everyone against any violence, threats, retaliation, adverse discrimination, pressure or any other arbitrary action as a consequence of his or her actions to defend and promote human rights.
In light of the seriousness of this situation, we call on the Egyptian authorities to:
1) Ensure Mohamed Ramadan’s rights to freedom of opinion, association and expression, and to presumption of innocence, by immediately releasing him and dropping the charges against him, unless judicial proceedings substantiate charges that he has committed a criminal offence, conducted in line with due process guarantees consistent with international human rights law;
2) Ensure Mohamed Ramadan’s personal integrity and humane and dignified treatment in any remaining time in custody and refrain from further extensions of his pre-trial detention;
3) 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 impediments; and
4) Undertake all necessary measures to fulfill economic, social and cultural rights including housing and labor rights as well as free expression concerning those rights, all of which have been promoted by Mr. Ramadan.
Habitat International Coalition General Secretariat