PUBLIC AI Index: MDE 12/035/2001
UA 324/01 Forcible Return/ Risk of Torture 19 December 2001
SWEDEN/EGYPTMuhammad Muhammad Suleiman Ibrahim El-Zari (m), aged 33
Ahmed Hussein Mustafa Kamil Agiza (m), aged 39
His wife and five children
The Swedish authorities forcibly returned the two Egyptian asylum-seekers named
above on 18 December, after rejecting their asylum claims in an unfair procedure.
In Egypt they are at grave risk of torture and unfair trial. The men’s whereabouts
are unknown and they are feared to be held incommunicado. Both have said that
they have been tortured while detained in Egypt in the past.
Ahmed Hussein Mustafa Kamil Agiza’s wife and five children have been denied
refugee status in Sweden in an unfair procedure, and may also be at risk of
Muhammad Muhammad Suleiman Ibrahim El-Zari has been described in various
international publications, including the Arabic daily newspapers al-Sharq
al-Awsat and al-Hayat, as a member of an armed Islamist group. He has denied
this, and stated that he is an activist for a non-violent Islamist opposition
group in Egypt.
Ahmed Hussein Mustafa Kamil Agiza has denied allegations by the Swedish Security
Police (Säpo) that he is a member of an armed group. He had been one of 107
people charged with membership of the Islamist armed group al-Gihad (Holy
Struggle) in an unfair trial before the Supreme Military Court. In April 1999
the court sentenced him in absentia to 25 years’ imprisonment. Such trials
of alleged members of armed Islamist groups before military or (Emergency)
Supreme State Security courts are grossly unfair.
The Swedish government recognised both men as having a well-founded fear of
persecution in an decision on 18 December 2001. However, the government excluded
them from protection on the basis of connections to organizations which had
been responsible for acts of “terrorism”. The government made its decision
on the basis of secret evidence provided by the Swedish Security Police which
was not disclosed in full to the men and their legal counsel.
The Swedish government held that the men would not be at risk of serious human
rights violations in Egypt, on the basis of written guarantees from the Egyptian
authorities. Amnesty International is concerned that these written guarantees
are an insufficient safeguard, that the Swedish government is in breach of
its obligations under international refugee law and human rights law not to
send anyone back to a country where they risk serious human rights violations
such as torture.
In Egypt suspected members of armed Islamist opposition groups are frequently
tortured, particularly at the SSI headquarters in Lazoghly Square, Cairo, but
also other SSI branches, at police stations and occasionally prisons. The
methods most commonly reported are electric shocks, beatings, suspension by
the wrists or ankles, burning with cigarettes, and various forms of
psychological torture, including death threats and threats of rape or sexual
abuse of the detainee or their female relatives. Despite hundreds of complaints
of torture reported by lawyers and local human rights groups to the Public
Prosecutor’s Office, no impartial investigations are known to have been