Egypt: Arrest and hostage-taking of dissidents’ brothers, a dangerous pattern that should be immediately stopped


GENEVA- The Geneva Council for Rights and Liberties ( GCRL) strongly condemns the Egyptian authorities’ continued arbitrary detention and holding of relatives of opponents abroad as hostages to silence dissident voices. The Geneva Council has received, in the most recent violations, a complaint from journalist Sami Kamal El-Din, an Egyptian journalist working for  Al-Jazeera media network, and living in Turkey, that the Egyptian security forces arrested his 33-year-old brother Riyad on September 17, and forcibly disappeared him since then for no reason other than that being his brother. The Egyptian security forces raided the home of the family of Riyad Kamal in Naga Hammadi, in southern Egypt, at dawn on Thursday, September 17th, and searched the house without a warrant, and confiscated the phones of his wife and his parents, then forcibly arrested Riyad and transferred him to an unknown location and denied him visits.
Riyad Kamal is a farmer, father of three children. Riad’s family confirms that no charges have been brought against him and that his arrest aimed at putting pressure on his brother who opposes the Egyptian state policies.GCRL states that this pattern of arrests is not the first that the Egyptian authorities carry out against opponents’ relatives and are the latest in a long-standing pattern of reprisals against families and relatives of activists, journalists, artists, and opponents living abroad, with the aim of silencing and extorting them. These abusive practices include arbitrary arrest, confiscation of money and property, threats of death or arrest, and physical harm. On August 22, 2020, the Egyptian security forces arrested the two brothers Eid and Hassan Saber Eid Hassan Al-Shazly, after raiding their home on Moharram Bey Street in Alexandria, and confiscated all their property contracts, various electronic devices, in addition to their passports and identification documents. Their arrest was aimed at silencing and blackmailing their sister, Mona, a political activist living abroad. The Geneva Council stresses that acts of retaliation are against the law, and it is a form of collective punishment whereby people are arbitrarily detained without committing any crime, but rather because they are relatives to dissidents in order to silence them.
The Geneva Council for Rights and Liberties calls on the Egyptian authorities to put an end to the tragic detention of Riyad Kamal and all those targeted in retaliatory arrests and to end systematic arbitrary detention in Egypt. GCRL calls on the special procedures of the United Nations to take concrete steps to oblige the Egyptian authorities to stop arbitrary arrests and enforced disappearance and to guarantee the right of everyone at home and abroad to express an opinion and political opposition, without fear or intimidation.

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