Amnesty International (AI) has called on the government of Egypt to release all those detained purely for exercising their right to freedom of expression.
The global rights group made the call following the sentencing of six Egyptians by a Cairo misdemeanors state security emergency court (ESSC) for ‘spreading false news to undermine national security’.
A Cairo misdemeanor ESSC, on 17 November, 2021, sentenced six Egyptians to between three and five years in prison for sharing social media posts and other content critical of Egypt’s human rights record and economic policy.
However, AI, in a statement by its Middle East and North Africa Research and Advocacy Director, Philip Luther, maintained that the six Egyptians were sentenced for criticising Egypt’s human rights record, economic policy and living standards.
President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi had announced on 25 October, 2021, he would not extend Egypt’s state of emergency, in force since April 2017.
‘Despite ending the state of emergency, the Egyptian authorities continue to use emergency courts to silence those who peacefully criticise Egypt’s abysmal human rights record’, Luther said.
‘These politicians and activists should never have been arrested in the first place and yet they have been convicted and sentenced to prison on charges related to their legitimate criticism of the Egyptian authorities’.
Article 19 of the law governing the state of emergency stipulates that ongoing trials are to continue even after the state of emergency is no longer in force.
The president, however, retains the power to authorise, quash or commute sentences or to order a retrial.
‘President Al-Sisi must quash the sentences and immediately and unconditionally release all those detained purely for exercising their right to freedom of expression’, Luther said.
‘The authorities must also cease sham trials by emergency courts which fail to respect international fair trial standards, including the right to appeal’.
Egyptian security forces, according to the U.S. State Department Egypt 2020 Human Rights Report, had carried out arbitrary arrests, torture, and enforced disappearances and other gross human rights violations.
According to Human Right Watch (HRW), Egypt has been experiencing its worst human rights crisis in many decades under Al-Sisi’s government with tens of thousands of government critics imprisoned on politically motivated charges.
Under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Egypt is a party, no individual may be subjected to arbitrary arrest or detention and no one may be deprived of his or her liberty except on grounds and procedures established by law.
Source: Amnesty International
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