Activists protest referral of civilians to Egypt’s emergency courts

Egypt’s Supreme State Security Prosecution referred a lot of imprisoned human rights legal professionals and distinguished political activists earlier than an emergency court docket on Oct. 16. 

The move triggered outrage amongst rights activists, as emergency state safety courts would not have jurisdiction over civilians. Also, the detained activists have been in pre-trial detention for durations exceeding the jail time stipulated within the Penal Code — though the legislation expressly supplies for his or her launch. 

In 2013, then-interim President Adly Mansour authorised amendments to the Criminal Procedure Code, setting pre-trial detention to 24 months most. Once this time is served, the accused should be launched. Egyptian authorities, nonetheless, typically ignore this legislation. 

Among those that have been just lately referred to the emergency court docket in Cairo is the previous spokesman for the liberal Civil Democratic Movement, Yahya Hussein Abdel Hadi. He has been in pre-trial detention since his arrest in January 2019, serving 10 months above the authorized time period.

Lawyer Mohammed el-Baker, the founder and director of the Adalah Center for Rights and Freedoms; political activist Alaa Abdel-Fattah; and Mohammad Ibrahim Radwan, a blogger also called “Oxygen,” are additionally amongst these introduced earlier than the emergency court docket. The three have been in pre-trial detention since September 2019. 

Egyptian human rights organizations condemned the activists’ referral to trial earlier than an emergency court docket. In a joint assertion printed by the Egyptian Front for Human Rights on Oct. 19, the organizations decried the move as “a new escalation in human rights crimes in Egypt.”

They revealed that the defendants’ attorneys weren’t knowledgeable of the referral determination. “The prosecution refused to share the charges filed with their lawyers, and during the hearing, the court denied a request to allow them [lawyers] to photocopy the case files or consult with their clients alone,” the assertion learn. 

It additional added, “The undersigned organizations denounce the referral of these activists to trial in exceptional courts, the verdicts of which are not subject to appeal and which do not adhere to basic due process standards. We hold the president and public prosecutor responsible for the life, and physical and psychological safety of Abdel Fattah and Oxygen.” 

The organizations known as pre-trial detention “a type of open-ended punishment by recycling detainees into new circumstances with equivalent expenses as soon as they’ve served the utmost legally-allowable period” and “a flagrant circumvention of the law by a judiciary that does not enjoy a modicum of independence.” 

Human rights lawyer and former presidential candidate Khaled Ali told Al-Monitor that as well as the high-profile cases of Baker, Abdel-Fattah, Ibrahim and Abdel-Hadi, three more defendants held in pre-trial detention for two years were referred before the emergency court in July: human rights lawyer and former parliamentarian Zyad el-Elaimy, along with journalists and politicians Hossam Moanis and Hisham Fouad. “The three had been in pre-trial detention since June 2019,” he mentioned.

Ali mentioned he submitted requests to the Supreme State Security Prosecution and the Attorney General to implement the legislation and launch the detainees. His requests fell on deaf ears and the activists have been referred to trial. “All the politicians, human rights defenders and activists are facing trial over bogus charges of spreading false news, statements and rumors about the internal conditions of the country.” 

Mona Seif, sister of Abdel-Fattah, spoke in regards to the particulars of the first hearings of the trial of her brother, Baker and Ibrahim on Oct. 18. In a assertion she posted on Facebook, she uncovered the authorized violations that marred the trial, most notably the court docket’s refusal of the protection’s requests. 

She added, “The defense requested to peruse the case papers and obtain a photocopy thereof for their examination and for submitting the appropriate pleas. The defense also requested the release of the defendants because their imprisonment is currently against the law.” All requests have been dismissed by the court docket, she burdened. 

Meanwhile, the trials of the activists have been postponed

A authorized researcher in one of many human rights organizations that signed the Oct. 19 joint assertion advised Al-Monitor, “Referring activists, politicians, and human rights defenders to an emergency state security court is a dangerous move.”

“The rulings of these courts are final and cannot be appealed or overturned before other courts, which is a fundamental violation of human rights, the right to a fair trial and the defendants’ right to appeal the verdicts issued against them,” mentioned the researcher, who wished to stay nameless. 

“Once the verdict is issued against the defendants, it is executed immediately without any possibility for retrial. The only available means of objection is filing a grievance before the military ruler with the aim of overriding the ruling. However, this has never happened before,” he added.

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