The first half of year 2018 has witnessed exacerbating apprehension and detention of politicians, journalists, bloggers, and human rights activists against the backdrop of their political activism as well as expressing their opinions freely. This came in conjunction with el-Sisi’s second presidential term.
There are a number of laws and orders issued after July 2013 that restrict freedom of opinion and expression and freedom of assembly. These include Anti-protest Law no. 107/2013, declaring the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist group, law no. 92/2014 criticising the use of websites to incite terrorism, law no. 70/2017 on NGO regulation, Cybercrime Law, and Press and Media Regulation Act.
Egyptian Front was able to monitor the arrest of 144 person distributed over 7 cases where they were interrogated and accused by State Security Prosecution of publishing false news and joining a group established against the law. These charges are widely known to be loose and subject to the discretion of the investigation authorities. The 144 persons arrested included 13 political activists, 2 bloggers, 9 journalists, 5 photojournalists, 2 film crew members, 2 lawyers, one researcher, 5 students, 3 among those who were shooting in a polling station, 4 among those who participated in Al Quds demonstrations in December 2017, 23 among those who protested against the increase in Metro tickets prices in May 2018.
Defendants detained pending these 7 cases were subjected to a number of violations that infringed their rights granted by the constitution and international conventions. At least 25 defendants were subjected to enforced disappearance, most were denied access to a lawyer and lived in poor conditions inside detention places.
Based on the above, the Egyptian Front demands the Egyptian authorities to:
- Attorney General should immediately release all the detainees held on remand in the aforementioned cases against the backdrop of their media, political, and human rights activism, also, immediately stop the pursuit of journalists and activists.
- We call upon the House of Representatives to review laws passed on Press and Media Freedom, consider the opinions, fears, and objections of journalists, and stop the issuance of freedom and rights restrictive laws.
- We call on the competent judicial authorities to investigate the allegations of the defendants held pending the aforementioned cases as they were subjected to violations during their arrest and in their detention places.
- We call upon the executive authorities to uphold the principal of rule of law, and immediately stop practices that restrict freedoms and rights under the pretext of war against terrorism and protecting national security.
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