The family of detained lawyer Hoda Abdelmonem has hit back at Egyptian authorities after the Interior Ministry claimed she was regularly visited by family members.
Abdelmonem’s family said in a statement that they have in fact not been allowed to see her since her original detention in 2018. They said: “We are truly shocked by these allegations which proves that the regime has no real intentions to provide the family even the most basic rights of communication with Hoda.
“Hoda has been imprisoned since 1st November 2018 without getting any single visit either from the family or lawyer.”
The claims by the Egyptian authorities were seen as adding insult to injury at a time Abdelmonem’s family are desperately trying to secure her medical attention. The lawyer’s health is reportedly deteriorating during her imprisonment, and she has been refused healthcare while she is detained.
Abdelmonem has been held for more than two years without trial, which is a breach of Egyptian law. She was arrested on 1 November 2018 by Egyptian security services, who refused to show her a warrant, blindfolded her, and drove her away in a police vehicle.
She disappeared without a trace for 20 days, during which time her house was searched.
Abdelmonem was one of 19 human rights activists arrested that day, part of an orchestrated campaign by the state to repress any form of opposition to the regime of Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi.
She is currently imprisoned at Al-Qanater women’s prison, still awaiting trial.
Abdelmonem’s crime is to be a legal activist in a country where any opposition to state corruption and human rights abuses is crushed. She was a lawyer at the Egyptian Cassation and Supreme Constitutional Courts and a member of the National Council for Human Rights and Egyptian Bar Association.
The Egyptian regime has recently started using the coronavirus pandemic as an excuse for keeping captives such as Abdelmonem isolated from family, friends, and legal advisors. Prisoner visitation rights have been restricted since March 2020 as a result, but human rights groups have noted that this is just the latest excuse by the regime, which has frequently denied prisoners even basic rights.
Aside from visitors, basic rights such as access to medical care and even food such as fruit and bread have also been banned for many detainees.