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HRW: Human rights advocates in Egypt are not safe

File photo of the entrance to the notorious Tora prison (Scorpion Prison) in Egypt [File photo]
Entrance to the notorious Tora prison (Scorpion Prison) in Egypt [File photo]

Human rights advocates are not safe in Egypt, Human Rights Watch (HRW) said earlier this week, noting that they are regularly detained and tortured.

In a statement, HRW said that there has been a “serious escalation” against human rights activists and groups.

On 7 February 2020, Egyptian authorities detained Patrick George Zaki, a researcher with the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR), HRW said, pointing out he was held incommunicado for roughly 24 hours and subjected to torture, including with electric shocks.

The rights group also reported its source saying Zaki was held in two unofficial National Security Agency detention sites, in Cairo and Al-Mansoura, where interrogators questioned him extensively about his activism and the EIPR.

READ: Italy calls on EU to pressure Egypt to release detained researcher

“Instead of facilitating the much-needed work of human rights defenders like Patrick George Zaki, security forces detained and allegedly tortured him,” said Joe Stork, deputy Middle East and North Africa director at Human Rights Watch.

Freedom of press in Egypt - Cartoon [Latuff/MiddleEastMonitor]

Freedom of press in Egypt – Cartoon [Latuff/MiddleEastMonitor]

Stork added: “President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi’s government seems intent on emphasizing that no one is immune from the security services’ brutal hand.”

After 24 hours, prosecutors ordered Zaki be detained pending an investigation, accusing him of actions including “calling for protests without permission”, “spreading false news” and inciting violence and terrorism.

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