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Rami Kamil

Egypt

Detained Coptic activist faces terror-related charges

26 Nov 2019

Coptic activist Rami Kamil, who was arrested when police raided his house in Cairo during the early hours of Saturday 23 November, is facing terrorism-related charges. The police who arrested him refused to allow him to change his clothes, carry his medications or speak to a lawyer. They also confiscated Mr Kamil’s laptop, mobile phone and camera and books.

Following his arrest, Mr Kamil was taken to an unknown location, where he underwent intensive interrogation and was subjected to physical and psychological pressure. He later appeared before the Supreme State Security Prosecution (SSSP) without legal representation, and was given 15 days in pre-trial detention. 

Mr Kamil was subsequently accused of joining a terrorist organisation, receiving foreign funding, disturbing public order, inciting the public against the state, and using social media to incite sectarian tensions between Muslims and Christians.

The arrest comes days after Egypt's human rights record was examined by the UN Human Rights Council (HRC), where Egypt received the highest number of recommendations since their Universal Periodic Review (UPR) in 2010.

In July 2018 Mr Kamil accompanied the United Nations (UN) Special Rapporteur on Adequate Housing, Leilani Farha, on a fact-finding visit to Cairo and Minya to investigate the situation of members of the Coptic community who had been displaced from their homes following sectarian incidents.  

Mr Kamil, 33, is a prominent human rights activist who took part in the 2011 uprising and the events that followed it. He is a founding member and the Coordinator of Maspero Youth Union, a Coptic human rights group that emerged following the Maspero massacre of October 2011, in which over 20 Coptic protesters were killed when the Egyptian military attacked a peaceful civil rights demonstration. Mr Kamil studied law at university and runs his own tailoring shop. He is the breadwinner for his family, which is comprised of his elderly mother, a single sister, and a married sister with two young children whose husband is reportedly debilitated.

CSW’s Chief Executive Mervyn Thomas said: “CSW condemns in the strongest terms the arrest and mistreatment of Mr Kamil. The charges against him are excessive, and his arrest lacks legal transparency. Rather than effectively criminalising peaceful human rights work, the Egyptian government should focus instead on upholding the right to freedom of religion or belief and assisting citizens who have been displaced by sectarian violence, while continuing to identify and counter genuine sources of terror. We urge the Egyptian government to ensure the immediate and unconditional release of Mr Kamil, along with all those currently detained on account of their efforts to improve human rights and advance the fundamental freedoms of their fellow citizens.”

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