Statement by Human Rights Commissioner Kofler on the arrest of human rights lawyer Hegazy in Egypt
Bärbel Kofler, Federal Government Commissioner for Human Rights Policy and Humanitarian Aid at the Federal Foreign Office, issued the following statement today (14 September) on the arrest of human rights lawyer Ibrahim Metwally Hegazy by the Egyptian authorities:
I am very concerned about the disappearance and subsequent arrest of human rights lawyer Ibrahim Metwally Hegazy by the Egyptian authorities. At the time of his arrest, Mr Hegazy was travelling to Geneva, where he was to report, at the invitation of a United Nations committee, on forced disappearances in Egypt.
The arbitrary arrests of people by organs of the state, without information being provided on their fate or location, deprives those detained of the protection of the law. It is not acceptable that the Egyptian authorities prevent people who campaign for others’ human rights to be upheld from doing their work by causing them to disappear, carrying out arbitrary arrests, imposing travel bans, freezing bank accounts, blocking websites, intimidating them or using other forms of repression.
Respect for human rights and a free civil society are basic prerequisites for social harmony and lasting stability, and also the best defence against radicalisation and extremism.
I call on the Egyptian authorities to release Mr Hegazy and to create conditions in Egypt in which human rights defenders and other members of civil society can do their work unhindered – work that is important for the Country.
Lawyer Ibrahim Metwally Hegazy is a co-founder of the Association of the Families of the Disappeared in Egypt. His own son vanished in 2013 and has never been seen again. Mr Hegazy also worked on the case of the murdered Italian PhD student Giulio Regeni.
Mr Hegazy disappeared from Cairo Airport on 10 September 2017 when he was on his way to Geneva, where he was to report on enforced disappearances at the invitation of the United Nations Committee on Enforced Disappearances. Only two days later was it revealed that he had been arrested by the Egyptian authorities and was being interrogated. He is accused of managing an illegal group, spreading false news and cooperating with foreign organisations. He is being held in Scorpion, the high-security wing of Tora prison.