Update on Aser Mohammed
We have received this request from Beverley Foulkes-Jones, AI North Africa Regional Coordinator for help in the case of Aser Mohammed, please support if you can.
To find out more background about Aser's case click here
I attach a case file update regarding Aser Mohamed which I received from the International Secretariat (IS) at the end of last week. Following what I said in our last newsletter the IS decided not to issue an Urgent Action on Aser's case.
The North Africa team will be making contact with our diplomatic contacts, the Egyptian embassy and other human rights organisations regarding Aser's case.
To draw attention to Aser's case write letters or cards decorated with rainbows to President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi. His address is Office of the President, Al Ittihadia Palace, Cairo, Arab Republic of Egypt. You could also decorate the envelope with rainbows. Set out the details regarding Aser's case (see the update), state that the rainbow has become a symbol of hope in the UK during the Covid 19 pandemic and that you hope that the Egyptian authorities will quash Aser's conviction, immediately release him and launch an investigation into his enforced disappearance and torture allegations. Further state that we hope that pending his release Aser will be provided with the means to communicate with his family and lawyers and that the authorities will take measures to protect Aser's health and the health of all prisoners in Egypt during the Covid 19 pandemic.
If you have any queries please do not hesitate to contact me.
Let's all hope that Aser will be released.
On 10 March 2020, the Egyptian authorities suspended all prison visits as a measure to prevent the spread of COVID-19. The authorities failed to introduce regular alternative means of communications between detainees and their families and lawyers such as bi-monthly phones calls like prescribed by Egyptian law.
The last time Aser’s relatives were able to visit him was on 2 March 2020. His family reported that he was suffering from depression. Relatives say Aser also suffers from a chronic allergy that causes respiratory difficulties. This condition puts him at particular risk of COVID-19 according to the World Health Organisation’s list of vulnerable groups. The well-documented concerns over overcrowded, unhygienic and unsanitary detention conditions in Egyptian prisons aggravate risks of the spread of COVID-19 infections.
Since the suspension of visits, Wadi al-Natrum prison authorities allowed Aser Mohamed’s family to send him food and a letter twice on 23 April 2020 and in 14 May 2020.
Aser’s family is concerned about his health and wellbeing as they did not receive any letters from him since the suspension of prison visits . They also have no confirmation on whether he was able to receive the supplies and letters they sent him and don’t know if he has access to information on measures he could take to protect himself from a potential outbreak of COVID-19.
In October 2019, a criminal court sentenced Aser to 10 years imprisonment after finding him guilty of membership in the banned Muslim Brotherhood group and attacking a hotel in January 2016. He was 14 years old at the time of his arrest. Amnesty International called for quashing his sentence given the gross violations of his rights of fair trial, including the use of confessions extracted under torture as evidence against him. Aser’s lawyer filed a cassation request to the criminal court end of 2019 and is still waiting for the court to set a hearing date. The process usually takes 12 to 18 months.
We therefore ask the Egyptian authorities to quash his conviction, immediately release him and launch investigations into his enforced disappearance and torture allegations. We call on them to also ensure that - pending his release – he is provided with means to communicate with his family and lawyers and ask them to take measures to protect the health of all prisoners amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Please target President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, who has the capacity to include Aser Mohamed in a presidential pardon. As Aser was convicted of a felony by a criminal court, only the court of cassation can review his verdict.
The Egyptian authorities have shown that they are sensitive to public criticism in the media, as well as from politicians from Europe and North America. It is therefore vital to engage with the Egyptian authorities, as well as their diplomatic representations.
Please reach out to your Ministry of Foreign Affairs and to the Egypt Embassy in your country, urging them to call on the Egyptian authorities to release Aser Mohamed. You can also reach out to other human rights in your country which could be interested in relaying the calls to your government and the Egypt Embassy, adding voices to ours.