On Thursday, 11 May 2023, a security force abducted Moaz al-Sharqawi from his home in the Mokattam neighborhood of Cairo during daytime hours. His location remains unknown and his family or lawyers have not been able to communicate with him. On Friday 13 May, al-Sharqawi’s family submitted a request to the General Attorney for an investigation into his re-arrest and immediate disclosure of his place of detention.
The undersigned organizations likewise demand that Moaz al-Sharqawi’s whereabouts be immediately disclosed while calling for his release. We condemn al-Sharqawi’s abduction, which constitutes the crime of enforced disappearance. Forcibly disappeared persons are likely to be subject to violations including torture, ill-treatment, and coerced false confessions.
Moaz al-Sharqawi has previously been subjected to violations of his rights and deprivation of his freedom. He used to work in the field of domestic tourism, and has not participated in any public activities since his graduation from the Faculty of Commerce, Tanta University, where he was an elected student union vice-president. To his surprise, al-Sharqawi’s name was placed on the terrorist lists in March 2018. He was then arrested on 19 September 2018 while traveling to the city of Dahab in Sinai. Al-Sharqawi was disappeared for 25 days before being listed as a defendant in Case no. 440 of 2018 State Security, registered under no. 1059 of 2021.
Moaz al-Sharqawi spent two years in pretrial detention and was released pending trial in the same case. In August 2021, Case no. 440 was referred to the Emergency Supreme State Security Court, which issued a final verdict on 29 May 2022. Al-Sharqawi was sentenced to ten years in prison on charges of joining a terrorist group. The court in the same case issued a 15-year prison sentence against Abdel Moneim Aboul-Fotouh, president of the opposition party Strong Egypt, and 10-year prison sentence against his deputy Mohamed al-Qassas. Sentences ranging from life to 15-year imprisonment and five-year probation were issued for all of the defendants in the case, including al-Sharqawi. These sentences have not yet been ratified by President of the Republic of Egypt, and their implementation could be suspended.
The abduction of Moaz al-Sharqawi and his ongoing disappearance, now in its third day, is a gross violation of human rights and Article 54 of the Egyptian constitution, which states that “Personal freedom is a natural right which is safeguarded and cannot be infringed upon. Except in cases of in flagrante delicto, citizens may only be apprehended, searched, arrested, or have their freedoms restricted by a causal judicial warrant necessitated by an investigation. All those whose freedoms have been restricted shall be immediately informed of the causes therefor, notified of their rights in writing, be allowed to immediately contact their family and lawyer, and be brought before the investigating authority within twenty-four hours of their freedoms having been restricted.”
The organizations note on Sunday, 14 May, the sessions of the National Dialogue political axis will begin, with a focus, among other issues, on public freedoms. Will these Dialogue sessions take place while Moaz al-Sharqawi is under enforced disappearance, among the cruelest violations of public and private freedoms?
The signatory organizations call on the speakers at the National Dialogue, including friends and colleagues of Moaz al-Sharqawi and defenders of human rights and public freedoms, to demand his immediate release. His abduction and disappearance represent a grave danger to his life and safety, and further indicates the absence of political will in Egypt to guarantee human rights for all.
- El Nadeem Center
- Egyptian Front for Human Rights
- Egyptian Commission for Rights and Freedoms
- Committee for Justice
- Sinai Foundation for Human Rights
- Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies