Joint statement, May 5, 2021
The undersigned human rights organizations strongly reject the move by Egyptian authorities to pursue family members of the detainee Abdul Rahman Gamal Al-Shuweikh after their disclosure and official complaint to the Minya Prosecution that he had been subjected to torture and sexual assault in Minya Maximum Security Prison in April 2021.
On April 26, security forces stormed the family’s home in Cairo, arrested Al-Shuweikh’s mother Hoda Abdul Hamid Muhammad, who later appeared as a defendant before the State Security Prosecution. His father, Jamal Al-Shuweikh and his sister, Salsabil al-Shuweikh, were released days later.
This serious escalation of crackdown against an entire family confirms that the Ministry of Interior continues its policy of abuse and retaliation against families of detainees by arresting them after their attempts to expose the violations that their relatives are subjected to in official detention facilities, or if they take any official action to request an investigation into these grave human rights violations. This policy is extremely alarming, as it aims to instill fear of government retaliation in the hearts of the families of torture victims and undermine their right to follow legal paths or seek redress from the judicial authorities, thus undermining the principle of the rule of law.
On April 26, 2021, security forces arrested Jamal Metwally Ibrahim Al-Shuwaikh, who is 65 years old and suffers from heart disease and Hepatitis C, and his wife Hoda Abdul Hamid Muhammad, 55 years old who is diagnosed with diabetes, in addition to their 18-year-old daughter Salsabil Al-Shuwaikh, after storming their residence in Cairo. According to eyewitnesses, security forces stormed the home and photographed Mrs. Muhammad and her daughter in their pyjamas, and arrested them without allowing them to change their clothes. Mrs. Muhammad appeared in the Supreme State Security Prosecution pending Case No. 900 of 2021, and was accused of “joining a terrorist group” and “spreading false news”. She was questioned about her social media posts regarding the torture and sexual assault of her son Abdul Rahman Al-Shuweikh in the Minya prison. Her publications were considered as evidence against her. The prosecution then ordered her pre-trial detention for 15 days pending the case. Abdul Rahman Al-Shuweikh’s brother, Abdulaziz Al-Shuweikh, was transferred from Tora Reception Prison to Tora Maximum Security Prison 1 (Scorpion) without justification on the same day of the interrogation with his mother, according to his brother Omar Al-Shuweikh. The father Jamal Al-Shuweikh and daughter Salsabil Al-Shuweikh were released days after their arrest.
The campaign of arrests against the family members came in revenge for Mrs. Muhammad’s appeals over the previous week to President Abdelfattah el-Sisi and the relevant authorities in video clips on the Internet to intervene to try to rescue her son after receiving a leaked written letter from him stating that he had been subjected to torture and sexual assault at the hands of prison officials.
On April 15, 2021, she submitted a verbal complaint to the officer present during the visit in the Minya prison and the prison warden, then went to the Minya Prosecution headquarters and submitted a written complaint bearing No. 545 for the year 2021- registered with No. 502 of 2021, Investigations/Minya Center Prosecution. The compnaint included the incident of physical and sexual assault on her son on April 6, 2021, along with the names of the officers accused of the assault.
The prosecution heard her statements regarding the report submitted on April 19, 2021, as well as the statements of her detained son, while the prison administration delegated a number of prisoners to act as witnesses claiming that he was a psychiatric patient undergoing mental treatment sessions, contrary to what was confirmed by the family. On April 25, 2021, the mother received information indicating that her son had been repeatedly beaten for several days and taken to hospital more than once as a result.
It is worth noting that Omar al-Shuweikh, Abdul Rahman’s brother, was also subjected to physical and sexual assault inside a police station in East Cairo after his arrest from a student demonstration in 2014, according to a letter he leaked to his mother from the police station after his arrest at the time.
Based on the above, the undersigned organizations hold Egyptian authorities entirely responsible for the safety of the Al-Shuweikh family, and call for the immediate release of Mrs. Hoda Muhammad. The organizations also call for an immediate end to the practice of torture and ill-treatment in Egyptian prisons, and for the perpetrators of torture crimes to be held accountable. Additionally, we call on the Public Prosecution to immediately and promptly investigate the reports submitted by the Al-Shuweikh family regarding torture and sexual assault of Abdul Rahman Al-Shuweikh in the Minya Maximum Security Prison, since the prosecution is the investigative body entrusted with addressing the complaints of citizens. We also demand an investigation into the violations that have been perpetrated against Al-Shuweikh family members since their arrest and to prosecute the culprits.
Egyptian Commission for Rights and Freedoms (ECRF)
El Nadeem Center for Rehabilitation of Violence and Torture Victims
The Freedom Initiative
Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR)
Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies
Committee for Justice (CFJ)
Foundation for Freedom of Thought and Expression
Egyptian Front for Human Rights
The Arabic Network for Human Rights Information