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Egypt: Human rights defender Ezzat Ghoneim completes 3 years in pretrial detention

Human Rights lawyer Ezzat Ghoneim [AzzaElGarfTwitter]
Human Rights lawyer Ezzat Ghoneim [AzzaElGarfTwitter]

Lawyer and human rights defender Ezzat Ghoneim has just completed three years in pretrial detention in Egypt.

Yesterday, the Egyptian Network for Human Rights (ENHR) said that Ezzat had been transferred between police stations and various other places of detention with no legal justification or judicial ruling for his detention.

"The only apparent reason is his defence of the oppressed and political detainees through his work as a lawyer and his keen interest in promoting human rights in Egypt while he was executive director of the Egyptian Coordination for Rights and Freedoms," the statement said.

Ezzat Ghoneim was arrested in March 2018, forcibly disappeared for three days, before appearing in a video broadcast by the Interior Ministry in which he was accused of "terrorism".

Before he was arrested, Ghoneim had represented Um Zubeida who was detained after appearing in a BBC documentary on enforced disappearances where she talked about the kidnap, rape and enforced disappearance of her daughter Zubeida Ibrahim.

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Ghoneim has been imprisoned on charges of joining a banned group and spreading false news in a punitive measure against his work defending political detainees who were put on trial in state security and military courts.

In September 2018 the Giza Criminal Court ruled that Ghoneim be released but instead he was transferred to Haram Police Station where he signed the exit paperwork but was then forcibly disappeared for five months.

Before his disappearance his family was visiting him regularly at the police station and were told by police officers there that they were waiting for the green light from the National Security Agency before he could be released.

In February 2019 he reappeared in court and was later transported to Giza Prison.

The Egyptian regime has targeted lawyers carrying out human rights work, with the ENHR estimating that there are around 350 lawyers in prison whilst arrest warrants have been issued for a further 100.

Although pretrial detention is supposed to be used in an emergency, Egypt uses it regularly as a punitive and retaliatory measure against its opponents.

It's indefinite nature and lack of clarity can amount to psychological torture, human rights groups have warned.

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