London – The decision by the Swedish government to deport Dr Hend AS back to Egypt sets a dangerous precedent for those seeking asylum from authoritarian regimes. As a result, Dr Hend’s life is at imminent risk where she will face imprisonment, torture and the possibility of the death penalty.
Dr Hend, a prominent medical professional, sought refuge in Sweden due to the well-founded fear of persecution and torture following the overthrow of former Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi. Her “crime” simply consists of providing emergency medical aid to injured peaceful protestors in 2013. The Swedish government, however, rejected her asylum claim and plans to send her back to Egypt, despite the clear evidence of the dangers she will face.
This is not the first time that the Swedish government has violated its international obligations under the commitment against torture. In 2001, Dr Hend’s husband, Ahmed Agiza, sought asylum in Sweden and was subsequently subjected to extraordinary rendition to Egypt at the behest of the CIA. During his time in Egypt, Mr Agiza endured brutal torture and mistreatment, which has left him permanently disabled. After his release, the Swedish government acknowledged its complicity in his torture and provided compensation as well as permanent residency for him and his family.
It is deeply concerning to witness history repeating itself with the imminent deportation of Dr Hend. The Swedish government’s decision disregards the obligations and responsibilities it has under the commitment against torture, as well as the dire consequences Dr Hend will face upon arrival in Egypt. By deporting an innocent individual, the Swedish government is complicit in perpetuating grave human rights abuses and contravening its international obligations to protect individuals from torture and persecution.
Dr Hend’s case is emblematic of the numerous individuals who seek asylum worldwide in search of safety and protection. Her unwavering commitment to providing essential medical aid during a time of political upheaval and a global pandemic highlights her selflessness and dedication to humanitarian principles and upholding the hippocratic oath.
We urgently call upon the Swedish government to reverse its decision and grant Dr Hend the protection she deserves as an asylum seeker. It is essential that Sweden upholds its commitment to human rights and safeguards the lives of those who seek refuge within its borders. We also implore the international community, including human rights organisations, governments, and concerned individuals, to voice their solidarity and support for Dr Hend . We must collectively condemn any actions that further endanger her life.
Ahmed Agiza, husband of Dr Hend and former deportee and torture survivor, said:
“As a survivor of the brutal torture and abuse inflicted upon me by the Egyptian authorities, I stand here today, with a heavy heart and a voice filled with anguish, to address the Swedish government’s decision to deport my beloved wife, Dr. Hend, back to Egypt.
It is with utter disbelief and profound disappointment that I witness this horrific repetition of history, as Sweden once again fails to fulfil its international obligations and disregards the grave risks my wife faces upon her arrival in Egypt. To witness the woman I love, the woman who has selflessly cared for others, face the same fate fills me with outrage and despair.”
Naila Ahmed, Head of Campaigns at CAGE, said:
“The Swedish government’s decision to deport Dr Hend back to Egypt is appalling. She will undoubtedly face imprisonment, torture and is facing a potential death sentence. This decision is a grave violation of Sweden’s international obligations, particularly their commitment against torture, and a betrayal of the fundamental principles that exist to protect asylum seekers.”
(NOTE: CAGE represents cases of individuals based on the remit of our work. Supporting a case does not mean we agree with the views or actions of the individual. Content published on CAGE may not reflect the official position of our organisation.)