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Rights activist reappears in Egypt after 167 days of forcible disappearance

Egyptian researcher Ibrahim Ezz-Eldin [Twitter]
Egyptian researcher Ibrahim Ezz-Eldin [Twitter]

After 167 days of forcible disappearance housing researcher Ibrahim Ezz-Eldin has appeared in the Supreme State Security Prosecution.

Ezz-Eldin was kidnapped by plain clothes police officers on 12 June this year near his home in Moqattam. When his family and lawyer enquired about his whereabouts authorities denied he was in custody.

Ezz-Eldin is a housing rights researcher for the Egyptian Commission for Rights and Freedoms (ECRF) NGO and worked on forced evictions in Egypt. He criticised how authorities managed slums and megaprojects, saying their investment into the new administrative capital would have been better spent on improving water sanitation and housing developments.

His arrest followed a visit to Egypt by the UN Special Rapporteur on the right to housing, Leilani Farha, after which human rights defenders and lawyers who met with her were summoned for interrogation, receiving threatening phone calls or were forcibly evicted from their homes.

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"Egypt has failed to adhere to the assurances provided to me that no person would be harassed, intimidated or subjected to reprisal for meeting or providing information to me or my delegation in the context of my visit," Farha said afterwards.

On 3 September the Administrative Court of Cairo was supposed to hold a session on Ezz-Eldin following a case initiated by the ECFR and his mother to determine his whereabouts.

His ongoing detention comes in the context of an unprecedented crackdown on human rights defenders pursued by the regime since 2014. The state has imposed severe restrictions on protests, issued travel bans, arrested thousands and are conducting a smear campaign against activists.

ECFR's staff are continually harassed by authorities for their role in documenting rights abuses, in particular their work campaigning about the systematic use of enforced disappearance in Egypt carried out by the National Security Agency and the Military Intelligence Service.

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