Egyptian Authorities Release Political Activists and Prisoners of Conscience: Correcting Unjust Imprisonment

2023-08-21 21:44:41

The Egyptian authorities, with a presidential pardon, released political activists and prisoners of conscience, some of whom had spent years in pretrial detention, in a move that activists saw as correcting the “crime” of their unjust imprisonment, calling for the release of all prisoners who exercised their right to freedom of expression and political activity.

On Saturday, the Egyptian authorities released prominent dissident Ahmed Doma, who has been imprisoned since 2013 and who was sentenced in 2019 to 15 years in prison after being convicted of “gathering and trespassing on government buildings.”

The release included journalist Karim Asaad, after his arrest for about 48 hours, against the backdrop of publications on a fact-finding platform, in which he revealed information about the Zambian authorities seizing a private plane coming from Cairo loaded with money, minerals and weapons.

Last month, the authorities released human rights researcher Patrick Zaki and lawyer Muhammad al-Baqer after a presidential pardon was issued for them. The Supreme State Security Prosecution decided, last month, to release Egyptian lawyer Muhammad Ramadan, who had been in pretrial detention for nearly four years on charges of “terrorism”, after He posted a picture showing him wearing a yellow jacket, the symbol of the popular protest movement in France.

Since late 2021, Egypt has been taking a number of steps it says aim to address human rights issues such as pardoning some high-profile prisoners.

The Journalists Syndicate in Egypt welcomed “the presidential amnesty for prisoners of conscience,” according to a newspaper the seventh day Two days ago.

The Freedoms Committee of the Syndicate expressed, according to the newspaper, its hope that the amnesty decision would include “all imprisoned persons and prisoners of conscience, led by imprisoned journalists, especially female colleagues who suffer from health conditions that require their release.”

The committee again called on the authorities to “expeditiously amend the pretrial detention law to ensure the complete closure of this file and prevent the inclusion of new detainees.”

In May, the authorities launched a national dialogue aimed at discussing the country’s future in the political, social and economic fields.

On Wednesday, Sisi said he would refer the recommendations of the dialogue sessions to the relevant authorities and parliament.

On the other hand, human rights activist Gamal Eid considers that “the release of prisoners of conscience and political activists is a reform of the crime of arresting and imprisoning them in the first place, unjustly depriving a person of his freedom and then releasing him. He needs two things, compensating him and pardoning those who wronged him. They did not commit a crime and there was no fair trial.” for them”.

Eid said in statements to “Al-Hurra”: “In fact, those who were granted a presidential pardon are individuals or dozens only, but the non-independent media depicts to us that they are many because it considers that the release of pre-trial detainees comes within the amnesty decisions issued by the president, and this is a crime.” .

He added, “The presidential pardon is for those who are serving a sentence for which a final court ruling was issued, because the president does not have the power to pardon a pretrial detainee, but rather that is by a decision of the prosecution. What is happening is a presidential pardon for two people, with twenty others in pretrial detention.”

Eid considered that the portrayal of the releases by the non-independent media as a major achievement and political reform in Egypt is a “big lie”.

He said, “Those who were released from prisons, whether by a presidential pardon or from those detained in precautionary detention, number nearly a thousand, but on the other hand, there are three thousand who entered prisons, during the same period.”

Eid believes that the reasons for the release of well-known activists come within the framework of deceiving the West so that it becomes silent and silent about its crimes with the escalation of criticism of it and talk of greater cuts in aid, adding that “the Egyptian regime does not respect internal public opinion and does not do so for the sake of elections. It is an attempt to take measures Formality, not substance, and not a return to the path of building a true democratic society.

Presidential elections are scheduled for early 2024 amid an economic crisis hitting the country.

Eid said, “There is no reform taking place in Egypt now. What is happening day after day is sabotage, impoverishment of people, an acute political crisis and a breach of justice.”

On Sunday, the Public Prosecution summoned the prominent opposition publisher, Hisham Kassem, for interrogation regarding a defamation lawsuit filed by a former minister. Kassem announced on the X platform that he refused to pay a bail of five thousand Egyptian pounds (150 euros).

Qassem had denounced the arrest of journalist Karim Asaad, and appeared alongside Ahmed Doma after his release under a presidential pardon.

Doma said in statements after his release from prison: “I used to say that I am happy after ten years, but it is true that I postpone joy until all people get out.. I hope we know how to rejoice soon.”

Hazem El-Gendy, a member of the Egyptian Senate, considered that Sisi’s decision “reflects the state’s keenness to bring about a remarkable development in the prisoner file, and to end it radically,” according to the website. Masrawy.

Egypt ranks 166 out of 180 in the 2023 ranking of press freedom, according to Reporters Without Borders.

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