UN 'hopes' for investigation into the death of Egyptian filmmaker Shady Habash inside notorious prison

UN 'hopes' for investigation into the death of Egyptian filmmaker Shady Habash inside notorious prison
The UN and France have sounded alarm over the death of the Egyptian filmmaker, implicitly pointing to human rights violations.
2 min read
05 May, 2020
Egyptian filmmaker and photographer Shady Habash died in prison on May 1 [Facebook]

The United Nations on Monday called for an investigation into the death of filmmaker Shady Habash in Egypt's notorious Tora prison, while France expressed concerns regarding "troubling" information surrounding the death.

In a press briefing on Monday, Stéphane Dujarric, a spokesperson for UN Secretary-General António Guterres, said the intergovernmental organisation has raised alarm over human rights concerns in Egypt.

"We have raised our concerns about the human rights and the rights of journalists in Egypt. We would hope that there is a full investigation into the death of the filmmaker," Dujarric said.

The Egyptian filmmaker and photographer Shady Habash died on Friday inside Tora prison in Cairo – where he was arrested in 2018 after directing a music clip that allegedly mocked Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi.

Habash was jailed without trial aged 22-years-old. According to The New York Times, his cause of death was not immediately clear. 

France's Ministry of Europe and Foreign Affairs also raised concerns over the circumstances surrounding Habash's death.

Comment: Imprisoned because of a song: How jail became a death sentence for Egyptian filmmaker, Habash

"Information regarding Shadi Habash's death in prison is troubling," a press briefing released by the French ministry said on Monday.

"France maintains a frank and rigorous dialogue with Egypt on human rights, and it is an integral part of our bilateral relationship. France therefore reiterates that prison conditions must meet the requirements set forth in relevant international agreements," the statement said.

After news of the filmmaker's death broke out in Egypt, We Record, an international human rights platform that documents violations, said Habash died despite appeals from fellow cellmates and detainees to "save him". The group claimed the detainees' calls to the guards for urgent help fell on deaf ears.

In his final letter,  sent out in October, Habash described the desperation he felt inside the cell as month after month he awaited for his release – to no avail.

"So I'm still in prison. Every 45 days I go before a judge who gives me another 45 days in jail, without even looking at me nor the papers of the case," Habash wrote, pleading for outside help from his friends and loved ones.

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