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Egyptian Protester Jailed, Tortured
RFK Human Rights Aids Egyptian Protester Mahmoud Hussein’s Release From Arbitrary Detention
In January 2014, 18-year-old college student Mahmoud Mohamed Ahmed Hussein was arbitrarily detained at a checkpoint in Cairo, Egypt, by plainclothes officers—for wearing a T-shirt that read “a nation without torture” and a protest scarf commemorating the January 25 revolution that arose in the thick of the Arab Uprising in 2011.
In custody, Egyptian security forces beat and tortured Mahmoud with electrical shocks for hours until they forced a bogus “confession” to unspecified crimes. Subject to the will of a corrupt system intent on stamping out even peaceful dissent with extreme force, Mahmoud faced repeated detention renewals, most times without even appearing in court. He remained in Egyptian jails for two years and two months, in violation of Egypt’s two-year pretrial detention window for crimes carrying life imprisonment or death sentences. Thanks to significant advocacy from RFK Human Rights and others, in March 2016 Mahmoud was finally released on bail.
Why is This a Key Case?
Extended pretrial detention has skyrocketed in the last decade, with many thousands of Egyptians—many of them peaceful protestors punished for exercising their freedoms of expression and assembly—imprisoned in filthy cells with insufficient medical care.
“Mahmoud never should have spent even one day in jail,” said Kerry Kennedy, president of RFK Human Rights. “His detention only serves to highlight the Egyptian government’s attempts to silence peaceful dissent at all cost, in flagrant violation of universally accepted human rights and the rule of law.”
How Did RFK Human Rights Support Mahmoud?
In November 2015, the organization submitted an urgent action and petition to the U.N. Working Group on Arbitrary Detention on behalf of Mahmoud, in conjunction with the Association for Freedom of Thought and Expression (an Egyptian nongovernmental organization), and Malek Adly, an Egyptian human rights lawyer who himself has faced arbitrary detention. The organization raised Mahmoud’s case through the media and diplomatic channels to put additional pressure on the Egyptian authorities. Mahmoud was finally released in March 2016.
What is the Status of the Case?
While Mahmoud is no longer detained, domestic charges—which were never filed in his two-plus years under arbitrary detention—remain possible.
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