AFTE’s Weekly Legal Bulletin (28 April: 5 May 2024)|: Administrative Court Overturns Dismissal of Student Omar Ali; Detention Renewed for 5 Defendants, Including Journalist Held for 4 Years

Date : Tuesday, 7 May, 2024
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28 April 2024 sessions 

Administrative Court 

The Administrative Court (Sixth Circuit) accepted the appeal No. 57029 of 74, filed by AFTE, and canceled the decision to dismiss student Omar Muhammad Ali from the Taiba Higher Institute of Engineering after proving that the student was imprisoned and not absent as the institute claimed.

 

AFTE presented to the court at the April 21 session a report proving it informed the institute of receiving a certificate from the military prosecution proving AFTE’s claim that Ali was imprisoned and not absent. 

Omar is spending his eighth year in detention after he was sentenced to 25 years in prison on February 7th, 2016. Since then, he has been trying to continue his studies at Thebes Higher Institute of Engineering, Architecture Engineering department, as he was arrested while enrolled in the third year. 

Criminal Court

 

Cairo Criminal Court (Third Terrorism Circuit) looked into 3 cases and decided the following: 

  • Renewing the detention of journalist Karim Ebrahim for 45 days, pending investigations of lawsuit No. 569 of 2020 (Supreme State Security Prosecution).

Security forces arrested the journalist at Al-Bawaba newspaper and a member of the Journalists Syndicate in April 2020; he was arrested in connection with clashes between the police forces and armed members, which took place in the Alamiria district, his residence place. He was also unlawfully detained for a month before being brought before the investigation authorities, who accused him of joining a terrorist group.

  • Renewing the detention of Moataz Bellah Hassab Elnaby for 45 days, pending investigations of lawsuit No. 965 of 2021 (Supreme State Security).

Hasab Elnaby completed two years in pretrial detention, which is the maximum period of pretrial detention according to the law. Security forces arrested Hasab Elnaby on July 12, 2021, against the grounds of several posts published on a Facebook account attributed to him;. However, Hasab Elnaby denied his ownership of the account.

  • Renewing the detention of Muhammad Fathallah Rushdi Zayan for 45 days pending investigations in Case No. 2727 of 2023, Supreme State Security, on charges of participating with a terrorist group in achieving its goals, publishing and broadcasting fake news and statements that would harm security and public order, and using an account on the internet for the purpose of publishing and broadcasting fake news and statements.

Zayan was arrested on October 15, 2023, from his home in Beni Suef Governorate based on an arrest warrant in another case, No. 2255 of 2023, Supreme State Security, the case of electoral process papers of potential candidate Ahmed Al-Tantawi. The prosecution investigated him on the same day, and he was detained pending investigations.

On October 25, 2023, the prosecution excluded him from referral to trial in the electoral process papers case and copied his papers to the case where he is now being held in pretrial detention.

Zayan was confronted with a video clip that he posted on his Facebook account from the conference of the potential candidate at the time, Ahmed Al-Tantawi, during his visit to Beni Suef Governorate. A TV channel took that video and broadcast it on its screen.

 

29 April 2024 sessions

Supreme State Security Prosecution

  • The Supreme State Security Prosecution renewed the detention of Mahmoud Gamal Abo Sree for 15 days pending investigations of lawsuit No. 508 of 2023 (Supreme State Security).

Security forces arrested Abo Sree On December 19, 2023, from Borg ElArab Airport while returning from abroad to spend a vacation with his family; he was brought before the Supreme State Security Prosecution on December 20, 2023, and was charged with joining a terrorist group while knowing its purposes, and publishing and broadcasting false news and information that would harm security and public order—and using an account on international information networks for publishing and posting false news and information.

It is also worth noting that he was not confronted with any seizures, nor was he confronted with any news or publications concerning him.

  • Moreover, the Supreme State Security Prosecution decided on the same day to renew the detention for Muhammad Taha Abdel Mawjoud Taha for 15 days pending investigations in Case No. 2526 of 2023 (Supreme State Security).

Taha was arrested on 10 March 2024 while returning from work outside the country to spend a vacation with his family.

He was presented to the Supreme State Security Prosecution on 11 March 2024. He was investigated in the case on charges of joining a terrorist group, publishing and broadcasting false news and data that would harm security and public order, and using an account on social media networks for the purpose of publishing and broadcasting false news and data, before deciding to detain him pending investigation.

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Joint NGO letter on the EU’s macro-financial assistance to Egypt Joint NGO letter on the EU’s macro-financial assistance to Egypt and human rights We, the undersigned Egyptian, regional and international human rights organisations, urge the European Commission and member states to uphold international and EU law to ensure that macro-financial assistance to Egypt granted under EU regulations secures concrete, measurable, structural and timebound human rights progress and reforms in the country. Since the 2013 military ousting of former president Mohamed Morsi, Egypt has been ruled with an iron fist. Authorities have brutally and systematically silenced peaceful dissent, nearly wiped-out independent media and civil society, repressed political opposition, adopted and enacted repressive legislation, jailed tens of thousands of actual or perceived critics and severely undermined the independence of the judiciary and of the legal profession. With very little civic, judicial, or parliamentary scrutiny, the authorities have faced virtually no accountability for their repressive policies and actions. In turn, this has contributed to the government’s failure to respect, protect and fulfil people’s social and economic rights, leading to setbacks for those most affected by the recurring economic crises in the country. From February 2024 onwards, Egypt’s donors including the United Arab Emirates, the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, the United Kingdom and the European Union provided or pledged around 57 billion USD in grants and loans. As part of this process, donors should ensure that the Egyptian authorities pursue and effectively implement reforms that improve respect for human rights alongside greater transparency and accountability. Donors must also ensure that economic and fiscal measures implemented as part of these programs do not contribute to the further erosion of people’s economic and social rights, especially in light of the continuing rise in poverty rates since the adoption of the first IMF program in 2016, as well as the Egyptian government’s inadequate spending levels on social protection, health and education. Any agreed macroeconomic reforms must reflect and uphold the legal obligations of all parties with regard to economic and social rights, notably in the areas of labour rights and environmental justice, and corporate accountability. We believe that structural reforms to strengthen rule of law, guarantee fair trials, open civic space, uphold the rights to freedom of expression, peaceful assembly and association and media freedom, and release all those arbitrarily detained, are crucial. Not only would they comply with Egypt’s constitution and international human rights obligations, but they would also address some of the root causes of Egypt’s financial and economic instability. This instability has severely impacted the economic and social rights of millions of people in Egypt, who will ultimately carry the burden of repaying Egypt’s debts, particularly those in vulnerable and marginalised situations. We note that EU regulations require that recipients of macro-financial assistance “adhere to the respect of human rights and effective democratic mechanisms, including a multi-party parliamentary system and the rule of law,” while the European Council stipulated that a precondition for granting the Union’s macro-financial assistance is that “Egypt continues to make concrete and credible steps towards respecting effective democratic mechanisms, including a multi-party parliamentary system, and the rule of law, and guaranteeing respect for human rights.” However, what those “concrete and credible steps” should be is not defined in the Commission’s proposal. As the Commission and Egyptian authorities negotiate Memorandum of Understandings (MoUs) to regulate the disbursement of EU funds to Egypt up to 2027, we urge the European Commission, Council and Parliament to ensure that: 1) The MoUs lay out a roadmap for structural reforms, with public, clear, specific and timebound indicators, targets and benchmarks for Egypt to meet its human rights obligations. 2) Egyptian authorities immediately and unconditionally release all those detained solely for the peaceful exercise of their human rights including the rights to freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly. 3) Egyptian authorities open civic and political space, by respecting the rights to freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly, including before, during and after the 2025 parliamentary elections. If these steps are met the EU’s macro-financial assistance will contribute to concrete and lasting progress on human rights and the rule of law in Egypt, which is indispensable to ensure transparency and accountability, end impunity and help prevent the recurrence of economic crises in the country. Failing to set human rights benchmarks would instead be a blank check for further abuses and repression in Egypt. Signatories Amnesty International Association for Freedom of Thought and Expression (AFTE) Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies Committee for Justice Egyptian Commission for Rights and Freedoms (ECRF) Egyptian Front for Human Rights (EFHR) Egyptian Human Rights Forum (EHRF) Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR) EgyptWide for Human Rights EuroMed Rights International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) Human Rights Watch Middle East Democracy Center (MEDC) Minority Rights Group Refugees Platform In Egypt (RPE) Tahrir Institute for Middle East Policy (TIMEP)Joint NGO letter on the EU’s macro-financial assistance to Egypt and human rights We, the undersigned Egyptian, regional and international human rights organisations, urge the European Commission and member states to uphold international and EU law to ensure that macro-financial assistance to Egypt granted under EU regulations secures concrete, measurable, structural and timebound human rights progress and reforms in the country. Since the 2013 military ousting of former president Mohamed Morsi, Egypt has been ruled with an iron fist. Authorities have brutally and systematically silenced peaceful dissent, nearly wiped-out independent media and civil society, repressed political opposition, adopted and enacted repressive legislation, jailed tens of thousands of actual or perceived critics and severely undermined the independence of the judiciary and of the legal profession. With very little civic, judicial, or parliamentary scrutiny, the authorities have faced virtually no accountability for their repressive policies and actions. In turn, this has contributed to the government’s failure to respect, protect and fulfil people’s social and economic rights, leading to setbacks for those most affected by the recurring economic crises in the country. From February 2024 onwards, Egypt’s donors including the United Arab Emirates, the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, the United Kingdom and the European Union provided or pledged around 57 billion USD in grants and loans. As part of this process, donors should ensure that the Egyptian authorities pursue and effectively implement reforms that improve respect for human rights alongside greater transparency and accountability. Donors must also ensure that economic and fiscal measures implemented as part of these programs do not contribute to the further erosion of people’s economic and social rights, especially in light of the continuing rise in poverty rates since the adoption of the first IMF program in 2016, as well as the Egyptian government’s inadequate spending levels on social protection, health and education. Any agreed macroeconomic reforms must reflect and uphold the legal obligations of all parties with regard to economic and social rights, notably in the areas of labour rights and environmental justice, and corporate accountability. We believe that structural reforms to strengthen rule of law, guarantee fair trials, open civic space, uphold the rights to freedom of expression, peaceful assembly and association and media freedom, and release all those arbitrarily detained, are crucial. Not only would they comply with Egypt’s constitution and international human rights obligations, but they would also address some of the root causes of Egypt’s financial and economic instability. This instability has severely impacted the economic and social rights of millions of people in Egypt, who will ultimately carry the burden of repaying Egypt’s debts, particularly those in vulnerable and marginalised situations. We note that EU regulations require that recipients of macro-financial assistance “adhere to the respect of human rights and effective democratic mechanisms, including a multi-party parliamentary system and the rule of law,” while the European Council stipulated that a precondition for granting the Union’s macro-financial assistance is that “Egypt continues to make concrete and credible steps towards respecting effective democratic mechanisms, including a multi-party parliamentary system, and the rule of law, and guaranteeing respect for human rights.” However, what those “concrete and credible steps” should be is not defined in the Commission’s proposal. As the Commission and Egyptian authorities negotiate Memorandum of Understandings (MoUs) to regulate the disbursement of EU funds to Egypt up to 2027, we urge the European Commission, Council and Parliament to ensure that: 1) The MoUs lay out a roadmap for structural reforms, with public, clear, specific and timebound indicators, targets and benchmarks for Egypt to meet its human rights obligations. 2) Egyptian authorities immediately and unconditionally release all those detained solely for the peaceful exercise of their human rights including the rights to freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly. 3) Egyptian authorities open civic and political space, by respecting the rights to freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly, including before, during and after the 2025 parliamentary elections. If these steps are met the EU’s macro-financial assistance will contribute to concrete and lasting progress on human rights and the rule of law in Egypt, which is indispensable to ensure transparency and accountability, end impunity and help prevent the recurrence of economic crises in the country. Failing to set human rights benchmarks would instead be a blank check for further abuses and repression in Egypt. Signatories Amnesty International Association for Freedom of Thought and Expression (AFTE) Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies Committee for Justice Egyptian Commission for Rights and Freedoms (ECRF) Egyptian Front for Human Rights (EFHR) Egyptian Human Rights Forum (EHRF) Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR) EgyptWide for Human Rights EuroMed Rights International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) Human Rights Watch Middle East Democracy Center (MEDC) Minority Rights Group Refugees Platform In Egypt (RPE) Tahrir Institute for Middle East Policy (TIMEP)and human rights

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