Egypt: The Working Group on Arbitrary Detention confirms the arbitrary nature of Dr Islam al Mazeny’s detention

Egypt: The Working Group on Arbitrary Detention confirms the arbitrary nature of Dr Islam al Mazeny’s detention

Dr Islam Sobhy Al Mazeny, an Egyptian doctor and poet, was arrested on 7 April 2007 by the Egyptian State Security Intelligence (SSI) as he was organizing his departure to work in a Saudi Arabian clinic. In a poor state of health, he was detained without any legal basis for 8 months, until his release on 19 December 2007. On 10 September 2008, the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (WGAD) adopted opinion 20/2008 confirming Alkarama’s submission that Dr al Mazeny’s detention was arbitrary.

Following his arrest in April 2007, Dr al Mazeny was subjected to 50 days of interrogation at the hands of the SSI, during which time he had no contact with the outside world and his family was given no news of his fate or whereabouts. On 27 May 2007, he was transferred to Wadi Natroun Prison on an administrative detention order from the Ministry of the Interior.

When a competent civilian court ruled on 7 July 2007 that Dr al Mazeny should be immediately released, he was re-arrested by the SSI and again detained incommunicado until the 16 July 2007. On this date, a further administrative order was issued by the Ministry of Interior for his detention and he was brought back to Wadi Natroun Prison. He was only released some 5 months later, on 19 December 2007, following a serious deterioration in his health.

The WGAD states in opinion 20/2008 that the Egyptian government’s repeated extension of the state of emergency has been a “constant concern of the human rights community and of the Working Group” and that “the state of emergency as declared by the executive branch of Egypt, does not conform to the requirements of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR).”

The Working group further notes that the Egyptian authorities’ justification of Dr al Mazeny’s detention citing Emergency Law No. 162 of 1958 and the state of emergency, despite a court order for release from a competent civilian court constitutes a breach of Article 8 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

The WGAD concludes that “the deprivation of liberty of Dr al Maziny during the period of April 2007 to 7 July 2007 (date which the court ordered his release), was arbitrary; according to articles 9 and 10 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and articles 9 (1), (2), (3), (4) and 14 (1), (2), (3) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights” and that “the detention of Dr al-Maziny during the period of 8 July 2007 to 19 December 2007 (day of his release) was arbitrary… for the inexistence of any valid legal basis to justify his deprivation of liberty.”

The Working Group “calls on the Government to ensure that everyone has the right to liberty and the security of persons and requests it to arrange for the effective right to compensation for Dr al-Maziny.” Alkarama fully supports this request and hopes the Egyptian government will implement these recommendations.