AFTE’s Newsletter: November 2022

Date : Thursday, 1 December, 2022
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In November, the Association for Freedom of Thought and Expression (AFTE) monitored the state and problems of freedom of thought and expression in Egypt. Through its various units’ activities, AFTE issued statements, reports, undersigned several joint statement, and published videos that take a deeper look at some of the issues of freedom of thought and expression currently raised and provided legal aid in cases related to freedom of thoughts and expression.

1. Publications

 

Punishment first report monitors and analyzes media reports that tackled the situation in the National Media Authority (NMA, aka Maspero) and the security and administrative violations of the rights of its staff against the backdrop of their protests demanding their working conditions to be improved, also monitored the investigations that some Maspero employees were subjected to, whether before the Supreme State Security Prosecution, the Administrative Prosecution or the Legal Affairs Unit in Maspero.

 

The third quarterly report, “No progress,” reviews and analyzes the violations documented during the period from 1 July to 30 September 2022 towards the right to freedom of thought and expression in its various forms, specifically freedom of the press and media, freedom of creativity and artistic expression, freedom of digital expression, academic freedoms, and student rights which (AFTE) monitors and documents violations in these domains. It also provides legal aid to the victims of these violations through its lawyers at the Legal Aid Unit.

 

What’s next?! paper sheds light on the House of Representatives rejection of government-drafted amendments to Law No. 35 of 1978 regarding the establishment of syndicates and the Union of Syndicates of Acting, Cinema, and Musical Professions and to re-discuss the law with bodies, institutions, and individuals concerned with the law. The law should be amended in a way that ensures that art-centric syndicates will be open toward new and emerging artistic forms instead of rejection, prevention, and exclusion.

 


2. Statements

 

Detained journalist Mohamed Oxygen’s brother submitted a solicitation to the President of the Republic through AFTE that provides the legal defense for Oxygen, requesting a presidential pardon for his brother, who faces a verdict issued by Emergency State Security Court to four years in prison.

3. Joint Statements

 

AFTE and other human rights organizations condemn the Egyptian government’s crackdown in the leadup to the COP27 Climate Change Conference. Dozens of peaceful citizens in several governorates have been arrested and other exceptional repressive measures taken against the backdrop of calls to demonstrate in conjunction with COP27, to be held in Sharm El-Sheikh on 11 November.

 

Ahead of COP27, 12 Egyptian human rights organizations launched a petition of joint demands that the Egyptian authorities must implement to immediately and unconditionally release all those held simply for peacefully exercising their human rights, immediately end the arbitrary blocking of websites and immediately release all journalists, end the prosecutions of civil society activists and organizations and guarantee space for civil society.

 

Human rights organizations condemned the sexual assault of Omar Mohamed Ali inside his place of detention by members of the police and in the presence of the prison investigations inspector. The organizations call on the Public Prosecution to open a serious and transparent investigation into the incident, to seize the camera recordings inside the prison, and to bring those responsible to trial.

 

Human rights organizations condemn the Third Circuit of the Terrorism Criminal Court for issuing unduly harsh sentences against 9 defendants to life imprisonment and 15-year sentences against 13 others in Case no. 95 of 2022, known as the El-Salam Station Case. The court further ordered all the accused to be added to the “list of terrorists” and placed under police surveillance for five years. The organizations call for a re-trial before an independent court wherein they would be investigated as victims of torture and be investigated with a view towards enforcing accountability for the commission of this crime.

 

12 regional, international and Egyptian CSOs welcome the European Parliament’s plenary debate on Egypt’s human rights situation and EU policy toward the country with Commissioner Lenarcic. After the exchange on 23 November, the EP has adopted a plenary resolution on the human rights situation in Egypt, with a majority of 326 in favor.

 

Egyptian and International human rights organizations urge several embassies to take action to end the restrictive and arbitrary measures imposed on members of the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR), which include travel bans, asset freezes, and unreasonably prolonged judicial investigations.

 


4. Legal Aid

 

– AFTE files 3 lawsuits against Syndicate Of Artists for refusing to register workers in the Syndicate
– Supreme State Security Prosecution conducts investigations with journalist Manal Agrama and detains her for 15 days
– Supreme State Security Prosecution conducts interrogations with defendant Hussein Ali Abdo
– Supreme State Security Prosecution renews the detention of 4 students for 15 days; for participating in the “Batman of Helwan” event
– Criminal Court renews Hamed Sedeek’s detention for 45 days despite exceeding 3 years in pretrial detention
– Supreme State Security Prosecution renews activist Sherif El-Rouby’s detention for 15 days
– Supreme State Security Prosecution renews Momtaz Ahmed Lotfy’s detention for 15 days
– Court of Cassation to examine Mawaddah al-Adham’s appeal against her 6-year prison sentence on February 11
– Supreme State Security Prosecution renews the detention of 3 people for 15 days; for calling to demonstrate on November 11
– Supreme State Security Prosecution renews the detention of journalist Manal Agrama for 15 days
– Supreme State Security Prosecution renews Gaber Mohamed Badawy’s detention for 15 days; for calling to demonstrate on November 11
– Criminal Court renews the detention of translator Marwa Arafa for 45 days; Despite exceeding two years in pretrial detention
– Criminal Court renews Mohamed Mamdouh Abdel Halim’s detention for 45 days pending his second case
– Borg El-Arab Prosecution renews the detention of masters student Moaaz Rizk for 15 days
– Supreme State Security Prosecution renews the detention of Hussein Shehata and journalist Ahmed Abdel Majid for 15 days because of Facebook posts
– Criminal Court renews the detention of journalist Tawfiq Ghanem for 45 days
– Criminal Court renews the detention of Journalist Mohamed Fawzy Mosaad for 45 days
– Criminal Court renewed TV presenter Hala Fahmy’s detention after 6 days on a hunger strike
– Supreme State Security Prosecution detains Ahmed Abdel Maged Oraby for 15 days
– Supreme State Security Prosecution renews Momtaz Ahmed Lotfy’s detention for 15 days; for posting video about Gamasa Prison fire
– Supreme State Security Prosecution renews activist Sherif El-Rouby’s detention for 15 days in new case 3 months after his release
– Supreme State Security Prosecution renews the detention of Ziad Abo El-fadl and 3 other defendants for 15 days
– Borg El-Arab Prosecution renews the detention of masters student Moaaz Rizk for 15 days
– Criminal Court renews Wessam Salah’s detention for 45 days
– Supreme State Security Prosecution renews Ahmed Oraby’s detention for 15 days
– Supreme State Security Prosecution renews the detention of Ahmed Elsayed and Ahmed Nabil for 15 days; against calling for November 11 demonstrations
– Supreme State Security Prosecution renews Gaber Mohamed Badawy’s detention for 15 days; for calling to demonstrate on November 11
– Supreme State Security Prosecution renews the detention of 4 defendants; for calling to demonstrate on November 11
– Supreme State Security Prosecution renews the detention of journalist Manal Agrama for 15 days
– Administrative Judiciary Court decides to re-prosecute appeal against dismissing detainee student Omar Mohamed Ali from Thebes Higher Institute of Engineering on December 25


5. Videos

The rules binding an official dress code for the Cairo International Film Festival and Censorship prohibiting some films from the public have sparked widespread controversy among cinema lovers and CIFF attendees.
Why do state institutions continue to restrict freedom of creativity?
Share your opinions on #UncensoredFestival
The newspapers owned by the state or its security agencies are often used as a tool to polish the authorities’ image. They portray a “utopia” that greatly differs from reality; while independent newspapers achieve the required balance to convey a realistic picture of what is happening in Egypt, the Egyptian authorities target independent newspapers by blocking their websites and even security crackdown on journalists.
Blog with us on #OurRightToFreePress