October 3, 2018
Egyptian police have forcibly disappeared a prominent human rights defender and lawyer, Ezzat Ghoneim, Human Rights Watch said today. Ghoneim has been in custody since March 2018, and his release was ordered by a court on September 4.
His wife, Rasha, was the last among his family, friends, and lawyers to see Ghoneim, the head of the Egyptian Coordination for Rights and Freedoms, an independent rights group. She saw Ghoneim in custody at al-Haram police station, south of Cairo, on September 13. Since then, his family and friends have been unable to contact him, and the authorities have refuse to provide any information on his status or whereabouts
“Forcibly disappearing a lawyer in the face of a judge’s order explicitly authorizing his release reflects Egyptian security forces’ contempt for the rule of law,” said Michael Page, deputy Middle East and North Africa director at Human Rights Watch. “Egyptian authorities should immediately reveal Ghoneim’s whereabouts, set him free, and investigate and punish those who disappeared him.”
The Interior Ministry’s National Security Agency officers had arrested Ghoneim as he was returning home from work on March 1 and initially also disappeared him for three days, refusing to disclose information on his whereabouts, until lawyers by chance saw him in the Supreme State Security Prosecutionoffice in Cairo. They learned that law enforcement officers had questioned him without a lawyer. Ghoneim was then sent for pretrial detention.