Detention of Eman Al-Helw renewed for the second time for 15 days pending investigation


31 March 2019

The State Security Prosecution renewed the detention of Eman Al-Helw for 15 days for the second time, pending investigation in case no. 1739/2018. Hoda Nasrallah, a lawyer with the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights, today filed two petitions with the prosecution. In the first, she is seeking an investigation into the theft of items belonging to Eman al-Helou and accountability for the perpetrators of this crime, in keeping with Article 112 of the Penal Code. In the second petition, she requested an investigation into the assault on al-Helw during a compulsory medical examination conducted while in custody without her consent and for no medical purpose and the punishment of the perpetrators of this crime under Article 268 of the Penal Code, which criminalizes sexual assault.

The EIPR has condemned the assault by the Prisons’ Authority and the participating and supervising physicians on al-Helw during the compulsory medical exam she was subjected to while being held in connection with an investigation. The EIPR holds the Interior Ministry responsible for the physical and psychological safety of al-Helw and all defendants in the same case. The Interior Ministry and doctors must immediately refrain from any medically unnecessary compulsory practices that constitute an assault on the physical safety of any defendant.

The Prisons’ Authority forced al-Helw to undergo a full external physical examination and inspection of her genitals, conducted by doctors at a general hospital, against her will and without medical grounds, which constitutes a clear assault on her bodily and psychological safety.

The unnecessary exam constitutes sexual assault under Article 268 of the Penal Code, an attack on the detainee’s physical safety, and a clear breach of professional ethics by the attending and supervising physicians, in particular, Article 28 of the Code of Medical Ethics, which prohibits a medical exam without the informed, freely given consent of the patient, and Article 35, which addresses the physician’s duty toward persons whose freedom is restricted.

Eman al-Helw was arrested on February 28, 2019. She was detained in an undisclosed location for four days before appearing at the State Security Prosecution on March 4, 2019, at which time the prosecution remanded al-Helw and others to custody for 15 days on charges of participating in a terrorist group and using an internet account (Facebook) to commit a crime punishable by law.