Alaa Abd el-Fattah – follow-up letter to the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention

Originally published by English PEN | Photo of Alaa Abd El-Fattah, courtesy of Photo by Mosaab El-Shamy. 


April 17, 2024

Dear Members of the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention,

We, the undersigned 27 freedom of expression and human rights organisations, are writing regarding the ongoing and arbitrary detention of the British-Egyptian citizen and award-winning writer and activist, Alaa Abd el-Fattah, in Egypt.

In November 2023, our organisations wrote to the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (UNWGAD) regarding the urgent appeal on behalf of Mr. Abd el-Fattah that had been filed with the UNWGAD. Mr. Abd el-Fattah and his family are represented before the UNWGAD by an international counsel team led by barrister Can Yeğinsu.

We are writing to enquire as to whether there is any update in respect of that urgent appeal and the possible adoption by the UNWGAD of an Opinion in relation to Mr. Abd el-Fattah’s case.

Mr. Abd el-Fattah has spent years imprisoned in Egypt on charges related to his writing and activism. Despite being a British citizen, he continues to be denied consular visits. His ongoing arbitrary detention is of serious concern to our organisations.

We therefore reiterate our support for the submission filed with the UNWGAD on 14 November 2023, and again urge the UNWGAD to consider that submission, under its Urgent Action procedure, and issue its Opinion in Mr. Abd el-Fattah’s case at the earliest opportunity.

Yours sincerely,

Brett Solomon, Executive Director, Access Now
Ahmed Samih Farag, General Director, Andalus Institute for Tolerance and Anti-Violence Studies
Quinn McKew, Executive Director, ARTICLE 19
Bahey eldin Hassan, Director, Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies (CIHRS)
Jodie Ginsberg, Chief Executive Officer, Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ)
Ahmed Attalla, Executive Director, Egyptian Front for Human Rights
Samar Elhussieny, Programs Officer, Egyptian Human Rights Forum (EHRF)
Sayed Nasr, Executive Director, EgyptWide for Human Rights
Jillian C. York, Director for International Freedom of Expression, Electronic Frontier Foundation
Daniel Gorman, Director, English PEN
Wadih Al Asmar, President, EuroMed Rights
James Lynch, Co-Director, FairSquare
Khalid Ibrahim, Executive Director, Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR)
Mostafa Fouad, Head of Programs, HuMENA for Human Rights and Civic Engagement
Baroness Helena Kennedy LT KC, Director, International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute
Alice Mogwe, President, International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), within the framework of the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders
Liesl Gerntholtz, Director, Freedom To Write Center, PEN America
Grace Westcott, President, PEN Canada
Romana Cacchioli, Executive Director, PEN International
Antoine Bernard, Director of Advocacy and Assistance, Reporters Sans Frontières
Ricky Monahan Brown, President, Scottish PEN
Ahmed Salem, Executive Director, Sinai Foundation for Human Rights (SFHR)
Mohamad Najem, Executive Director, SMEX
Timothy Kaldas, Deputy Director, The Tahrir Institute for Middle East Policy (TIMEP)
Aline Batarseh, Executive Director, Visualizing Impact
Menna Elfyn, President, Wales PEN Cymru
Miguel Martín Zumalacárregui, Director of the HRD Programme, World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), within the framework of the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders



Letter also available in Arabic.