A prisoner of conscience profile
– Ezzat Ghoneim is an Egyptian lawyer, human rights activist, and the executive director of the Egyptian Coordination for Rights and Freedoms.
– He graduated from the Faculty of Law in 2000, and obtained a Diploma in Human Rights and Civil Society from the Faculty of Economics and Political Science in Cairo University.
– He worked in the field of law and specialized in freedom-related cases before administrative courts and the State Council. Then in 2005, he turned to the field of human rights, where he worked as an independent activist in human rights issues especially civil rights, and then an activist with some civil society organizations, until he became the director of the Egyptian Coordination for Rights and Freedoms in 2014.
– Recently, Ghoneim has taken cases of enforced disappearance. He is the lawyer of Zubeida’s mother who appeared in a documentary released by the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) in February 2018 speaking about the enforced disappearance of her daughter, she -the mother- was arrested and detained pending investigations by the State Security Prosecution, on charges of spreading false news and joining a terrorist group established contrary to the provisions of the law.
– It should be noted that Zubeida appeared later in a TV show with anchor Amr Adib on the private Egyptian television channel “ON E”, and said that she ran away from her mother, got married and gave birth to a child without her knowledge, and that she was not in touch with her mother for an entire year, asserting that what the mother said on BBC is not true.
– Ghoneim published many legal and human rights studies on various topics including the NGO Law, the philosophy of the regime, and a handbook on how to deal with violations of human rights, in addition to periodic articles in websites, electronic newspapers and TV interviews with international and local media outlets.
– Ghoneim was arrested by security forces on Thursday 1 March 2018, from the vicinity of his house in Al-Haram region (Giza), and in the meantime, his family and friends were unable to contact him.
– Ghoneim went missing for three days until he appeared, on 3 March 2018, before the Supreme State Security Prosecution, where he was interrogated without the presence of a lawyer. The Prosecution then decided to detain him for 15 days pending investigations on charges of joining a terrorist group established contrary to the provisions of the law and disseminating false news and information, in case No. 441 of 2018.
– On 16 March 2018, Ghoneim’s family and lawyer were surprised at the Egyptian Interior Ministry releasing a video called “the Spider Web” to promote the state’s efforts to combat terrorism and it showed footage of Ghoneim, looking pale and exhausted, (particularly in a part entitled ‘human rights terrorism’), in addition to footage of the BBC report on human rights violations in Egypt, followed by a silent clip with the logo of Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International.
– On 4 September 2018, Cairo Criminal Court ordered the release of Ezzat Ghoneim with precautionary measures. However, and as usual in cases where human rights activists are accused or in cases of a political nature, the National Security forcibly disappeared Ghoneim for the second time, in flagrant defiance of the Criminal Court’s release order and in a blatant violation of the law and the Constitution.
– On 16 October, a hearing was set by Cairo Criminal Court to consider the precautionary measures upon which Ghoneim was ordered to be released, but the court was surprised that he didn’t show up in the hearing, so it decided to adjourn the case for the October 20 hearing to look into the reasons behind the non-implementation of the release order and address the Prosecution to discuss the matter.
– A huge number of civil society organizations, both Egyptian and international, such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, expressed solidarity with Ghoneim. On 19 March 2018, Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies (CIHRS) released a solidarity statement signed by a number of human rights organizations in Egypt to demand the release of Ezzat Ghoneim.
– Also, a Spanish newspaper’s website published a report, which it attributed to HRW, about Ghoneim’s enforced disappearance, the violations he was subjected to since his arrest and the accusations brought against him.
What they said about Ezzat Ghoneim:
Ghoneim’s cellmate, journalist Hamdy al-Zaeim said: “My dear friend, my cellmate who is never reluctant to offer help for anyone who asks for it. Despite being imprisoned, he spared no effort to try to lift injustice against others although he is also being oppressed! I shall never forget his noble stances, and that’s nothing new for him. He was the legal reference for all those in Tora (prison). May God send him back home soon and reassure your hearts that he is fine and will be back to you soon by the grace of God.”