Our Voices

RFK Human Rights Condemns the Resentencing of Egyptian Researcher Ahmed Samir Santawy and Calls for His Immediate Release

On July 4, 2022, an Egyptian State Security Emergency Misdemeanor Court again sentenced researcher and academic Ahmed Samir Santawy to three years in prison on unfounded charges of “spreading false news.” We at Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights strongly call on President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi and the Egyptian government to end the continuing violation of Santawy’s rights and release him immediately.

Santawy, who turned 31 yesterday, 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. He has been arbitrarily detained since February 1, 2021 in retaliation for his research and for sharing his views on social media. Monday’s verdict comes after Santawy’s earlier conviction by the same Court over a year ago and a subsequent referral for retrial by the government.

“Santawy has now spent more than 17 months unfairly detained, away from his family and studies for simply exercising his right to free expression protected under the Egyptian Constitution,” said Kerry Kennedy, President at Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights. “By returning a verdict essentially the same as the one from a year ago, Egypt has shown no commitment to justice. There cannot be a justification for this brazen assault on human rights.”

In January 2022, the United Nations’ Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (UNWGAD) released a decision condemning the Egyptian government’s arbitrary detention of Santawy. The Working Group found that Santawy was held incommunicado for five days, blindfolded, and assaulted by National Security Agency agents. They determined that he is being held without any legal basis, in violation of international human rights law, and called for his release. Yet, with this verdict, authorities continue to detain Santawy and blatantly violate his most basic fundamental rights and freedoms.

“Egyptian President El-Sisi must act now to release Ahmed Samir Santawy immediately,” said Ikechukwu Uzoma, Africa Staff Attorney at Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights. “If Egypt is truly committed to advancing its human rights standards, they must put into practice their newly established National Human Rights Strategy, desist from arbitrary detentions, and stop the criminalization of dissent.”