Human Rights Watch (HRW) reported on Sunday that Egyptian police and National Security Agency (NSA) have arrested more than 40 human rights activists, lawyers and political activists since late October. As many as 80 people may have been arrested, but so far only 40 names were able to be verified by HRW.
No arrest warrants were presented during the arrests, and authorities have refused to state where the arrested are being held. Three of the arrested have been released, but the status of the others remain unknown.
The arrested include several members of the Egyptian Coordination for Rights and Freedoms. The organization has since announced that they will be suspending operations in Egypt because the authorities “attack anyone who defends the oppressed.”
Hoda Abdel Moneim, former member of the official National Council of Human Rights, was also arrested on November 1. Abdel Moneim’s lawyer has not received any response from the Interior Ministry or Prosecutor General’s Office and her whereabouts are not certain.
Human Rights Watch notes that arbitrary detentions and enforced disappearances violate international law. HRW calls upon the Egyptian authorities to reveal the locations of the detainees and bring them before a judge to review their detention. Egyptian law requires that detainees be presented before a prosecutor within 24 hours of detention.
Michael Page, deputy Middle East and North Africa director at HRW, has stated the arrests show that President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi’s promise to review a 2017 law that restricted nongovernmental activities is hollow.
Egypt has seen many recent accusations of human rights violations. Amnesty International called Egypt an “open-air prison for critics” in a September. Also in September six UN Special Rapporteurs called upon the UN Human Rights Council to respond to a court decision that condemned 75 protesters to death. Amnesty International called upon Egyptian lawmakers in July to reject a law that would increase the government’s control over online content.