Our Voices

Egypt: Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Welcomes the Release of Ahmed Samir Santawy

Egyptian researcher Ahmed Samir Santawy was finally released from prison on July 30, 2022 after a presidential pardon was issued. Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights is elated to see Santawy finally released, although he should have never been imprisoned and convicted in the first place.

This pardon comes after an Egyptian State Security Emergency Misdemeanor Court re-sentenced Santawy to three years in prison on unfounded charges of “spreading false news” on July 4, 2022. Santawy is an anthropology master’s student at the Central European University (CEU) in Vienna whose academic research and writing focuses on sexual and reproductive rights in Egypt. On February 1, 2021, Egyptian authorities arbitrarily detained him in retaliation for exercising his rights to freedom of opinion and expression through this research and sharing his views on social media. In the course of the past 18 months, Santawy was subjected to poor treatment and was deprived of his rights to a fair trial.

Following a petition from RFK Human Rights and the Association for Freedom of Thought and Expression on Santawy’s behalf, in January 2022 the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (UNWGAD) found that the Egyptian government arbitrarily detained Santawy in violation of international human rights law. The UNWGAD called on Egyptian authorities to release Santawy, provide him with necessary compensation, to implement an independent investigation into his detention, and to take the necessary measure against those who were responsible for violating his rights.

The Egyptian authorities must follow through on the UNWGAD’s opinion by providing the necessary compensation and reparations to Santawy, and holding those who arrested Santawy on baseless charges accountable.

“Santawy’s release will be one of my most memorable moments of 2022. He did not deserve to be detained for 544 days. President El-Sisi must address the worrying trend of arbitrary detention and judicial harassment in Egypt to enable a thriving civic space” said Kerry Kennedy, president of RFK Human Rights.