Statement on detention of Esraa Abdelfattah by Egyptian Authorities

The Netherlands Institute for Multiparty Democracy (NIMD) is deeply concerned about the arrest of our former colleague in Egypt, Esraa Abdelfattah, on 12 October 2019.

Esraa worked at the Egyptian Democracy Academy, one of NIMD’s partners in Egypt, in 2012. She was instrumental in setting up NIMD’s programme in Egypt and establishing NIMD Democracy Schools there. We know Esraa as a highly professional expert, who is committed to the cause of democracy and human rights.

According to news sources, Esraa was detained by members of Egypt’s secret police on 12 October, and denied access to legal assistance and contact with her relatives. The next day she told the Supreme State Security Prosecution that she had been tortured in the form of beatings, attempted strangulation, and being forced to stand for prolonged periods of time.

Egyptian prosecutors are holding Esraa for a further 15 days as they investigate their charges of “joining a terrorist group in achieving its goals”, “disseminating false news” and “misusing social media”. As far as NIMD is aware, no evidence has been produced to substantiate these allegations. Esraa has however been questioned about her political activism. Since her detention, NIMD has been informed Esraa has launched a hunger strike.

Both the manner of Esraa’s arrest, the reported use of violence against her, and the nature of charges formulated by Egyptian prosecutors are deeply concerning. NIMD urges the Egyptian authorities to honour the principles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, to which it is a signatory. NIMD calls for the immediate release of Esraa Abdelfattah and for the charges against her to be dropped.