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Despite WGAD Opinion from September 2008, Al-Shatar and 3 others remain detained; health deteriorating
Despite WGAD Opinion from September 2008, Al-Shatar and 3 others remain detained; health deteriorating
In September 2008, the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (WGAD), a group of independent experts mandated by the Human Rights Council to investigate situations of people detained illegally, adopted Opinion 27/2008 regarding the case of Khirat Al-Shatar and 26 other individuals detained in Egypt.
Thursday, April 1,2010 12:10
The Working Group found their detention to be arbitrary and called on the Egyptian Government to release all those still in detention. Nineteen months later, Khirat Al-Shatar, now aged 59 and suffering from serious health problems, remains detained in Tora prison in Cairo, along with 3 other individuals mentioned in this Opinion.

Alkarama calls on the Egyptian government to respect the Opinions adopted by the United Nations human rights mechanisms and immediately release Mr Khirat Al Shatar, Mr Hassan Ezzudine Malek, Mr Ahmed Ashraf Mohamed Mostafa Abdul Warith, and Mr Ahmad Mahmoud Shousha as well as Mr Sadek al Sharquaoui who was not included in the WGAD Opinion.

Alkarama has called on the WGAD to remind the Egyptian government of its commitments made to the Human Rights Council in 2007 promising the "implementation of all human rights instruments which it has ratified, guided by the work of the international human rights mechanisms." In reality, the Egyptian government has systematically ignored recommendations made by international human rights mechanisms thus jeopardizing the credibility of the Egyptian government commitments before the Human Rights Council.

Background - WGAD Opinion

On 27 August 2007, Alkarama submitted a communication to WGAD regarding 26 individuals including Mr Al-Shatar. On 12 September 2008, WGAD adopted Opinion 27/2008, which stated emphatically "The deprivation of liberty of Messrs. Mohamed Khirat Saad Al-Shatar [and 25 other individuals detained with him] is arbitrary." The Working Group called on the Egyptian Government to release all those individuals still in detention. However no release orders were issued for any of the above-named.

Following the adoption of WGAD's Opinion, an appeal was submitted by the detainees who were the subject of this Opinion. This appeal was heard before the Supreme Military Court of Haikstep and was rejected on 17 November 2009.

Since the date of Opinion No 27/2008, a number have been released, but only following the end of their sentences. To this day, 5 detainees from this case remain detained in Tora Prison in Cairo (of which 4 were mentioned by name in the WGAD's Opinion):

1. Mohammad Khirat Al-Shatar, 59 years old
2. Hassan Ezzudine Malek, 52 years old
3. Ahmed Ashraf Mohamed Mostafa Abdul Warith, 53 years old
4. Ahmad Mahmoud Shousha, 56 years old
5. Sadek al Sharquaoui (Not submitted by Alkarama to WGAD)

Health concerns

All four individuals cited in WGAD's Opinion 27/2008 who remain in detention are over the age of 50 and Khirat Al Shatar in particular is suffering from serious health problems.

Mr Al-Shatar has been suffering from the thickening of his heart muscle caused by high blood pressure. Though he is prescribed medication for this high blood pressure, it still often gets out of control, which has led him to be transferred in emergency to the hospital of Tora Prison several times in the past 2 years, most recently towards the end of February 2010.

Khirat Al-Shatar also has chronic bronchitis which, combined with the enlarging of his heart muscles, are causing serious difficulties in breathing and heightening the risk of a heart attack. He also suffers from acute diabetes which has lead to the inflammation of nerves and causes continuous pain in his foot. Furthermore, he has a defective thyroid gland and kidney stones.

Mr Al-Shatar's wife and children are particularly distressed about their father's situation. They feel the full weight of their father's arbitrary detention, which has now reached 10 years, when combined with the 7 years served in the 1990s following a previous conviction before a military court. It causes serious financial, social and mental stress to the family who relied on Mr Al-Shatar for their main income.

Egypt's pledges to the Human Rights Council

In 2007, Egypt submitted its candidacy to be a member of the Human Rights Council and affirmed that:

Egypt is constantly striving to upgrade the level of its implementation of all human rights instruments which it has ratified, guided by the work of the international human rights mechanisms and benefiting from the experiences of other countries. (A/61/878 - 23 April 2007 - p5, para 5)

This affirmation is in complete contradiction to the reality of Khirat Al Shatar's situation. An international human rights mechanism, the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, has requested that the Government of Egypt "take the necessary steps to remedy the situation of the above mentioned persons and to bring it into conformity with the standards and principles set forth in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights."

However, the Egyptian Government has failed to comply with this request - and has thus failed to follow the guidance of this international human rights mechanism to implement a human rights instrument which it ratified on 14 February 1982.

Alkarama thus calls on the Egyptian government to fully comply with the requests of the United Nations human rights mechanisms, and release the 5 above-mentioned individuals.

Mr Khirat Al Shatar, Mr Hassan Ezzudine Malek, Mr Ahmed Ashraf Mohamed Mostafa Abdul Warith, and Mr Ahmad Mahmoud Shousha have all been detained arbitrarily for over 3 years, despite the request of the Working Group for their release. All of these individuals are aged over 50 and are in weak states of health, Mr Khirat Al-Shatar in particular. They are all being detained due to the expression of their opinion and following a long and unfair trial.

Alkarama express its serious concern at the Egyptian authorities continued detention of Mr Al-Shatar despite his health conditions and despite the recommendations made by the WGAD more than 19 months ago to release these individuals. Alkarama joins the families of all the above-mentioned detainees in calling for their immediate release.

Fondation Alkarama
2bis Chemin des Vignes
1209 Geneva

Phone: +41 22 734 10 06
Fax: +41 22 734 10 34

tags: Apartheid / Persecution / Al-Shater / Egyptian Government / United Nations / Human Rights In Egypt / Al-ShatarAl-Shater / Crackdown / Crackdown On Muslim Brotherhood / Hassan Malek / Torture In Egyptian Prisons / Apartheid / Persecution
Posted in Military Tribunal , Prisoners of Conscience , Human Rights , Torture  
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