Zimbabwe News

Egyptian nationals detained in Zimbabwe finally set free

Two Egyptian nationals who had been detained by Zimbabwean authorities under unclear circumstances have been freed and allowed to leave the country following the intervention of human rights lawyers.

According to the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR), Emad Awny Elgamal and Khaled Fuozi Foudza, who are both male, were arrested by Zimbabwean Immigration officials on 6 March 2024 and arbitrarily detained under opaque circumstances at Harare Remand Prison.

Authorities claimed the immigration officials intended to “verify their documents” and no charges were preferred against them ever since they were detained. Said the ZLHR:

The duo was detained even though they had valid visitors’ permits which allowed them to stay in Zimbabwe after they entered the country lawfully through Beitbridge Border Post.

Upon their arrival at Beitbridge Border Post, the two Egyptians had presented their documents to the immigration officials, who were satisfied and issued them with valid visitors’ permits authorizing them to stay in Zimbabwe for 30 days.

On 27 March 2024, Elgamal and Foudza engaged Harare lawyer Brighton Sadowera of Sadowera Kuwana Legal Practitioners, who filed an urgent chamber application at Harare High Court seeking an order compelling the immigration officials to immediately release them.

Sadowera also asked the High Court to declare the provisions of section 8 of the Immigration Act, which allows immigration officers to detain people arbitrarily for 14 days without taking them to court, to be in violation of the rights of detained persons guaranteed in terms of section 50(2)(b) of the Constitution, which guarantees the right of every person detained for a suspected offence to be taken to court within 48 hours of their detention.

The lawyer also argued that the two Egyptians were entitled to their immediate release in any case because the 14-day period in which the immigration officers and prison services are allowed to detain people in terms of section 8 of the Immigration Act had lapsed.

According to the ZLHR, on 5 April 2024, when the application was set down for hearing before High Court Judge Justice Pisirayi Kwenda, Respect Gono, the Chief Director of Immigration, conceded that her organisation was unlawfully detaining the two Egyptians.

She said the Egyptian nationals were entitled to their release and would facilitate their return to the North African country.

As a result, the matter was removed from the court roll owing to the concession made by the Chief Director of Immigration.

Elgamal and Foudza were released from prison on 6 April 2024 and their lawyers escorted them to Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport, where they flew back to Egypt.

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