Towards unconditioned freedom: Political use of probation and precautionary measures has to stop

The undersigned organizations call upon the Egyptian authorities to stop using police supervision penalty and precautionary measures, and call for the unconditional release of those subjected to it. These measures restrict the freedom of the observed, and place them under the eyes of the various security bodies. This can be considered as an extension of the systematic policies of the Egyptian authorities to encircle freedom of opinion and expression. The organizations also express their full solidarity with those subject to such sanctions and arbitrary measures.

Within days, dozens of political activists will start their police probation period after their release, among which is Mahmoud Abu Zeid (known as Shoukan) who is to remain under surveillance for five years. Shoukan was arrested with 214 others in the case no. 2985 for the year 2015, (Raba’a Sit-in dispersal case). The same penalty will be served by 213 people who were also sentenced to five years’ probation following their imprisonment in case no.4163 for the year 2013 ( Al-Fath Mosque case).

Meanwhile, Egyptian judiciary is expanding the use of precautionary measures against political activists, journalists and human rights activists following the widespread accusations of joining a group established contrary to the provisions of the law and publishing fake news. The authorities subjected dozens of defendants in political cases to precautionary measures, most notably the human rights lawyer Ezzat Ghoneim, a defendant in Supreme State Security case No. 441 of 2018, and the activists Gamal Abdel Fattah and Hasan Hussein, the defendants in Case 482 of 2018, and Amr Ali the coordinator of 6th of April Movement who is accused in a case known as “coalition against legitimacy”.1

Belonging to a political organization and participating in a demonstration are criminalized by Egyptian Courts since July 2013. This allowed judicial authorities to expand the use of police surveillance as an additional penalty in these types of cases. In accordance with police supervision Law No. 99 of 1945, the observed is obliged to be daily present in the police station from 6 pm to 6 am for a period does not exceed five years, according to the penalty imposed on them.

With regard to precautionary measures, the law allows the competent judicial authority to replace the pre-trial detention of the accused with precautionary measures, and hence imposing a number of obligation while risking imprisonment in case of violations. Article no. 102 of the Code of Criminal Procedure provides for the obligation of the observed person to be present at the police station at specific times, often a number of hours per day, which has a negative impact on the freedom of the accused and the violation of their personal rights in a serious manner, given that the application of these measures is arbitrarily and for long periods.

Judicial supervision of the execution of such punishment or measures does not stop at the judicial expansion; however, the supervision of the “accused or convicted” is subjected to various types of additional violations. In addition to detention at the police station for hours throughout the night, and restrictions on their freedom of movement and right to work; these measures also negatively affect the monitored person responsibility towards his/her family and contribute to reducing their chances of learning and development, which is detrimental to their reintegration into society.

Egyptian authorities resort to the probation penalty on both the convicted and accused, without the presence of a valid need for such surveillance except punishing the observed and the disruption of their return to normal life. Regardless of the lack of readiness of the police stations for the individual to spend nearly 12 hours of their day, it turns out that the purpose of resorting to such a measure is the abuse of these individuals.

The undersigned organizations demand upon the Egyptian authorities to stop Systematic procedures that restrict rights and freedoms. The organizations also demand the state to reconsider probation penalty and the precautionary measures stated in Article no. 99 of 1945 and article no. 201 of the Egyptian code of criminal procedure, and substituting them with other procedures that respect human freedom and dignity, as well as allowing the re-integration of those released back into the society.

  1. The minimum number of defendants released in political cases is estimated at 66 persons in the first half of 2018, according to a monitoring by the Egyptian Front https://goo.gl/pjVf3n

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