During the past weeks, Egyptian human rights organizations have documented campaigns of arbitrary arrests in some areas in Cairo and other governorates. The campaigns included arresting pedestrians in the streets, verifying their personal identities, searching the contents of mobile phones and social media, and detaining people for hours. The organizations also documented the arrest of people and then their appearance in cases before the Supreme State Security Prosecution on accusations without evidence, and the State Security Prosecution decided to detain them in pretrial detention because of just social media posts.
In similar security campaigns in previous years, for example, the random arrests in September 2019 against the backdrop of calls to demonstrate, extensive security presence was in some areas such as downtown Cairo and other neighborhoods such as Zamalek, Garden City, Dokki, the main hubs of the capital and other areas. The security forces arbitrarily arrest individuals, sometimes on the basis of color, look, and nationality, and mostly foreigners as well, especially refugees and immigrants. Upon arrest, the authorities arrest, investigate, search electronic devices and social media, and check personal identities, residence permits, and rental contracts.
In the case of the arrest of asylum seekers and migrants, an examination is made whether the person has a political or human rights activity, whether in the country of origin or in the refugee communities in Egypt and search if phones contain images or content that leads to knowing the identity or inclinations of individuals or groups at risk, if any, then the person may be subjected to arrest, disappearance and humiliating treatment.
The Refugees Platform in Egypt (RPE) had joined the joint statement of Egyptian human rights organizations calling on the Egyptian government to stop the campaign of arbitrary arrests and arrests during this period, release the detainees who were arrested in the past days, drop the charges against them, and stop arresting activists during or after the climate conference.
The Refugees Platform in Egypt (RPE) had signed a joint statement with Egyptian human rights organizations calling on the Egyptian government to stop the campaign of arbitrary arrests and detention, release detainees who were arrested in the past days, drop charges against them, and stop arresting activists during or after the climate conference.
Over the past two weeks, RPE has documented the arrest and detention of refugees with expired residency permits, unregistered refugees, and unregistered migrant workers as well.
For the sake of your safety, we recommend the refugee, asylum-seeking and immigrant communities in Egypt to:
- Keep your passport/asylum card/refugee status determination card/application card to register for asylum, in any movement within or outside your areas of residence.
(If you do not have a passport, you must keep any of the documents mentioned above. If you do not have one of these documents, you must keep any identity document and your official information. If you do not have any type of identification document – Like if it was stolen or lost – you should file a theft or lost report and keep a copy of the police report and a copy of the documents if you have them.)
- If your residence permit is expired, you must also keep it along with your identity documents and explain when stopped by the police that you will soon renew the residence, and if you are waiting for renewal, you must keep the receipt with you and show it in case of arrest.
- Avoid areas where people are usually arrested and areas where security ambushes are set up.
- Check your mobile devices before you leave the house and make sure that there is no personal information on them that could determine the opinion, tendencies or ideas persecuted by the Egyptian authorities.
- It is preferable not to open social media while roaming, sometimes people are arrested because of posts on the pages they follow.
At worst, in the event of arrest and detention:
- You should make sure that you inform a friend or acquaintance, whether they are residing in Egypt or abroad – if possible – immediately after the arrest or detention, and preferably if you can share your geographical location in which you were arrested or other important information.
- You should make sure to save/memorize any phone number of one of your close ones, in case you are detained for a long time or presented to the prosecution.
- If you are not registered with the UNHCR – and you have contact with your country’s embassy – it is important to communicate immediately with the embassy, and it is preferable to contact the emergency numbers of the embassy if there is one.
- If you are registered with the UNHCR, you must inform the officers who stopped you, and if you are detained, you must repeat it to the officers and officials of the detention center and ask to contact the Protection Section of the UNHCR Office.
- If you have recently arrived and have not yet legalized your status and intend to apply for asylum in Egypt, you must inform the authorities that stopped you, or the authorities of investigation or detention, of a request to access the UNHCR asylum procedure in Egypt.
In the case of arrest or detention of a family member:
- If the family resides in Egypt and they have a lawyer appointed inside Egypt, they must inform him/her of all the information and ask to take national legal measures in the event of arrest and incommunicado (which are the procedures to be followed whether you have a lawyer or not). It is to send telegraphs of the incident and ask for fate to be disclosed, legal position and if your relative has any health issues, through the nearest Telecom Egypt Center, or by calling the landline number (124) and requesting to submit telegraphs of the incident. It is important to mention in the telegraph the information of the person who sends it, the victim’s information, the identification document number, and the relationship between the person who sends the report and the victim. Then sends it to each (the National Council for Human Rights, the Human Rights Sector of the Ministry of Interior, the Public Prosecutor, and the Minister of Interior). After sending the telegraphs, you must keep their numbers for use in extracting a copy of them and following up on their arrival later.
- If a family member has been arrested and he or she is not registered with the UNHCR and you have contact with the embassy of your country, it is important to immediately inform the embassy of your country, and it is preferable to contact the emergency numbers of the embassy if there is any and inform the embassy of all the information that you have and request intervention with the Egyptian authorities to find out the status and fate of the detainee and the reason for the detention and to demand the release of your relatives.
- In the event of the arrest or detention of a member of your family who is registered with UNHCR as a refugee or asylum-seeker or intends to submit an asylum application, you can contact the UNHCR Protection Line.
Numbers, emails and links to report arrests and detentions
UNHCR Egypt Office: https://help.unhcr.org/egypt/en/contacts/
You can also contact UNHCR’s legal partners:
United Lawyers (01154526171) or the Egyptian Foundation for Refugee Rights (0225751118)
You can also contact the legal aid line of the Egyptian Commission for Rights and Freedoms: 01220549598
RPE can also be informed of the incident and request advice, support or legal referral through the following links:
Arabic and Tigrinya: https://rpegy.org/Legal-advice/
We ask everyone to take care of personal safety and we wish you safety and security.