The Egyptian Front for Human Rights (EFHR) expresses its deep concern about the deportation and refoulment of dissents to Egypt under the pretext of “the fight against terrorism”, which is used to target human rights defenders and any political opposition, which happened recently, especially by Arabic countries allied to the Egyptian regime. EFHR believes that the deportation to Egypt would put individuals at risk of irreparable harm, including undergoing enforced disappearance, torture, and being sentenced to imprisonment in violation of due process.
“No State Party shall expel, return (“refouler”) or extradite a person to another State where there are substantial grounds for believing that he would be in danger of being subjected to torture.” Art. 3 of the UN Torture Convention
Under international human rights law, the principle of non-refoulment guarantees that no one should be returned to a country where they would face torture, cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment and other irreparable harm. The ICCPR permits the expulsion of those unlawfully in the territory of a state party to the Covenant provided this expulsion is carried out lawfully.
Nevertheless, the Arab Convention for the suppressing of terrorism stated that one of the measures of counter-terrorism is “arrest the perpetrators of terrorist offences and to prosecute them in accordance with national law or extradite them in accordance with the provisions of this convention or of any bilateral treaty between the requesting state and the requested state”.
Since 2013, the slogan “fighting terrorism” has been broadly utilized in targeting dissents through legislating several laws under which the dissents are accused including the Terrorist Entities Law (No. 8/2015) and the Anti-Terrorism Law (No. 94/2015), and the public and vital facilities law (No. 136/2014) as The UN experts stated that terrorism charges in Egypt are “being used to target legitimate human rights activities, and have a profound chilling effect on civil society as a whole.”
Although Egypt received many recommendations regarding human rights violations during the 2019 UPR, as it received 26 recommendations related to torture and 5 recommendations regarding enforced disappearance, Egyptian dissents are periodically deported under the pretext of fighting terrorism which is so broadly worded.
For instance, In September 2021, the Sudanese authorities arrested Habiba Ahmed Mohamed Sobhi, her mother and her sisters, and forcibly deported them to Egypt in February 2022 as they remained under enforced disappearance for 3 days until they were brought before the Supreme State Security Prosecution which accused them under case No. 1527/2018. On accusations of joining and funding a terrorism group.
Also, In July 2019, eight Egyptians were deported by the Kuwaiti authorities to Cairo airport and arrested by the Egyptian authorities upon their arrival under case No 1233/2019 on accusations such as joining terrorist groups. They have been undergone enforced disappearance for up to 24 days and subjected to psychological torture and were prevented from their rights to the defence. Afterwards, the court sentenced them to 25, 15, and 5 years in prison.
Last but not least, In December 2021, an ex-prisoner was arrested at Riyadh airport as a result of a report from the Egyptian Interpol demanding extraditing him to Egypt to serve a 5-year prison sentence which was issued against him in absentia. He was deported from Riyadh to Egypt after months of detention, then was released in May after a verdict of acquittal.
Accordingly, EFHR calls on the Egyptian authorities to stop targeting Egyptian dissents abroad and to respect their freedom of opinion and expression. Also, EFHR urges the Arab countries to stop the extradition of Egyptian dissents and meet all of their obligations in respecting, guaranteeing, and protecting human rights and freedoms in all circumstances.