The Egyptian Organization for Human Rights
The EOHR strongly condemns the illegal arrest and detention of its Secretary General
Monday 17 August 1998The EOHR strongly condemns the illegal arrest and detention of its Secretary General In an attack on the Egyptian Organization for Human Rights (EOHR) and on human rights activists, a police force from Tora sub-police station, Maadi, arrested Hafez Abu-Se'da, lawyer and the EOHR Secretary General. He was arrested from his mother's house at 4:30 p.m. on Sunday 16 August 1998, on the claim that there were enforceable judicial rulings against him. He asked about official documents proving the existence of such rulings. The members of the force claimed that they did not have such documents, and that he had to go to the said police station to see them. There, a police Captain ordered that he would be placed at the detention room on the claim that there were fine rulings of LE 1500 issued against him. Hafez Abu-Se'da tried to explain that he was not the 'wanted' person and that he is the EOHR secretary general. Nevertheless, the officer in charge insisted, in contravention to law provisions, to place him in the detention room, and added that the Public Prosecution is the area authorized to decide whether he is the 'wanted' person or not. He continued that Abu-Se'da has to wait until the next morning when he will be referred to the Public Prosecution Department. He added that he "knows everything about him!" However, Hafez Abu-Se'da was detained in a dark room which was smelly due to the lack of proper ventilation and to its location beside a horse stable. Two hours later, a police car from the Maadi police station arrived and took him to the station where he was re-detained in a room at the second floor beside a toilet. There were three other people detained, sleeping on the floor, hands tied to their backs, and signs of torture were visible on their bodies. After two hours of illegal detention, an officer summoned him and told him that there were fine rulings of LE 680 against him, and that they were for public utility infringements related to a shop owned by Hafez Mohammed Saeed. In spite of the clear difference between the two names, Hafez Abu-Se'da paid the fine, and was released at 8:30 p.m. It must be noted that the illegal detention for four hours and a half of the EOHR Secretary General took place few hours after the EOHR had issued a report entitled "Death in Silence and Seclusion". The report monitors and documents the violation of the rights of prisoners in Egyptian prisons. The EOHR fears that this measure against a human rights activist may be a prelude to more arbitrary measures against the organization in order to undermine its leading role in disclosing and confronting human rights violations, and in defending and reinforcing human rights and basic freedoms in Egypt.
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