Arab Republic of Egypt
Generally under the written law, arbitrary arrest and detention of persons in Egypt is prohibited; nevertheless, the Emergency Law, Anti-Terrorism Law, and Protests Law extend police powers and suspend constitutional rights and have resulted in a major pretrial detention in Egypt. During more than three decades, the country was under an emergency decree, which gave authorities enormous latitude on who they could detain and why. Announcing the country under emergency decree means that activities of the non-governmental political parties are limited, street demonstrations are prohibited, and unregistered financial donations are not allowed. It permits indefinite detention without trial and hearings of civilians by military courts, prohibits gatherings of more than five people, and limits speech and association. Hundreds of Muslim Brotherhood supporters were detained without any charges a day after declaring it a terrorist organization.
General Status of Rights in Egypt
According to Egyptian law, defendants in criminal cases have a right to access legal counsel. Article 96 of the 2014 Constitution establishes that the accused is innocent until proven guilty in a court of law and provides guarantees for legal defense.
Egypt has been reported for mass detention and illegally holding hundreds, including at least 264 children, in Central Security Forces camps where many detainees were subjected to torture, including sexual abuse [ HRW Report 2014].
Although the Constitution provides that an arrested person should be brought before the investigating authority within 24 hours of the time of arrest, it is common practice by the police to keep arrested persons (especially protesters) in jail for months under the pretext of “anti-terrorism” protections.
Egypt has been criticized for amendments to the Code of Criminal Procedure, which gives judges the sole authority to decide whether witnesses can be called and their testimony heard.
Domestic Laws Governing Pretrial Detention
The Egyptian 2014 Constitution provides:
- The right to challenge detention (Article 54)
Every person whose freedom is restricted shall be immediately notified of the reasons therefore; shall be informed of his/her rights in writing; shall be immediately enabled to contact his/her relatives and lawyer; and shall be brought before the investigation authority within twenty four (24) hours as of the time of restricting his/her freedom. Investigation may not start with the person unless his/her lawyer is present. A lawyer shall be seconded for persons who do not have one. Necessary assistance shall be rendered to people with disability according to procedures prescribed by Law.
- The right to be protected from torture and abuse (Article 55)
All those who are apprehended, detained or have their freedom restricted shall be treated in a way that preserves their dignity. They may not be tortured, terrorized, or coerced. They may not be physically or mentally harmed, or arrested and confined in designated locations that are appropriate according to humanitarian and health standards. The state shall provide means of access for those with disabilities. Any violation of the above is a crime and the perpetrator shall be punished under the Law. The accused possesses the right to remain silent. Any statement that is proven tohave been given by the detainee under pressure of any of that which is stated above, or the threat of such, shall be considered null and void.
- The provision of judicial oversight over all places of detention (Article 56):
Prisons and detention centers shall be subject to judicial oversight. All that which violates the dignity of the person and or endangers his health is forbidden. Human dignity The law shall regulate the provisions to reform and rehabilitate those who have been convicted, and to facilitate a decent life once they are released.
- Crimes and penalties may only be based on the law, and accused persons are considered innocent until proven guilty in a fair court of law (Articles 95- 96)
Penalties are personal. Crimes and penalties may only be based on the law, and penalties may only be inflicted by a judicial ruling. Penalties may only be inflicted for acts committed subsequent to the date on which the law enters into effect. The accused is innocent until proven guilty in a fair court of law, which provides guarantees for him to defend himself. The law shall regulate the appeal of felony sentences. The state shall provide protection to the victims, witnesses, accused and informants as necessary and in accordance with the law.
The Criminal Procedure Code No. 150 of 1950
Under Article 143 of the Criminal Procedure Code, as amended in 2013, the Court of cassation and the Court of referral has the authority to extend detention of individuals facing charges punishable by death or life imprisonment for 45 days, renewable with no maximum time limit. Punishment of death or life in prison applies to some “political crimes” such as blocking roads or picketing outside a government building as well as crimes like assassination or attempting to overthrow the regime. Therefore, EOHR demanded the President of the Republic to cancel the amendment of the law on remand.
The Law of Entry and Residence of Aliens in the Territories of the United Arab Republic and their Departure Therefrom (Law No. 89 of 1960 as amended by law No. 88 of 2005)
Non-Egyptians holding residency permits in Egypt shall not be deported; unless their presence threatening national security.
The Minister of Interior has the authority to keep non-Egyptians in temporary detention after they complete criminal sentences until they are deported.
Emergency Law No. 162 of 1958
Egypt’s Emergency Law No. 162 of 1958 authorizes the government to suspend basic civil liberties by declaring a state of emergency. Such a state of emergency has been in force almost continuously since 1967. Acting under this law, Egyptian authorities have administratively detained individuals who were suspected of membership in banned organizations such as the Muslim Brotherhood, as well as individuals engaged in peaceful demonstrations expressing opposition to the war in Iraq or support for the Palestinian uprising.
Law No. 107 for 2013 for Organizing The Right to Peaceful Public Meetings, Processions and Protests
The Law authorizes the police in Egypt to ban any protest, and disperse any protest if even a single protester throws a stone. As per the Human Rights Watch, the law also gives the Ministry of Interior the right to ban any meeting “of a public nature” of more than 10 people in a public place, including meetings related to electoral campaigning. The law includes no exceptions for smaller demonstrations that would not cause disruption, or for urgent and spontaneous demonstrations.
The law requires organizers of demonstrations and public meetings of more than 10 people to notify the Ministry of Interior three days in advance. Organizers can in theory appeal a ban before the local court of first instance, but the law sets no time frame, meaning that the court could hear the appeal after the scheduled date of the event. Article 2 stipulates that the law also applies to public meetings during the official campaign period for elections, or any meetings of voters and the candidates or their representatives and meetings to select a candidate.
International or Multilateral Treaties Concerning Arbitrary Detention
Article 93 of the Egyptian Constitution provides that the state is committed to the agreements, covenants, and international conventions of human rights that were ratified by Egypt including:
- Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment
- Universal Declaration of Human Rights
- African Charter on Human and People’s Rights
- The International Covenant On Civil And Political Rights
Case Examples / Practical Observations
The Canadian resident Khaled Al-Qazzaz was detained without charge in Egypt for 558 days. He was working as an aide to the former Egyptian president Mohammed Morsi when he was arrested along with Morsi and eight other aides in July 2013.
Mahmoud Abou Zeid (Shawkan)
Shawkan, an Egyptian photojournalist, was held in an Egyptian prison without charge for more than 10 months after being detained on 14 August 2013.
Two Canadians Arrested in Egypt without Charge
Loubani, a doctor and Greyson, a university professor, were detained for 51 days without charge in Egypt; because they had decided to check out protests that were close to their hotel and saw at least 50 protesters killed. Loubani stopped to treat some injured protesters and Greyson filmed the carnage. The 2 men were released after the case had attracted high level support.
- The Egyptian Organization for Human Rights (EOHR):
8/10 Mathaf El-Manial ST, 10th Floor,Manyal El-roda,Cairo,Egypt
Tel :(202 ) 3636811 – 3620467 … Fax : 2023621613
- Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies
Address :21 Abd El-Megid El-Remaly St., 7th Floor, Flat no. 71, Bab El Louk, Cairo.
Phone :+ 202 27963757 + 202 27963757
+ 202 27963726 + 202 27963726
+ 202 27951112 + 202 27951112
Fax :+202 27921913 Email: email@example.com
- The Egyptian Coalition on Children’s Rights
Phone +2 01019420353
- Human Rights Association for the Assistance of Prisoners
9, Al-Horeya St, Imbaba
1st. floor – Flat # 2
Phone: +20 1 236 65 316 +20 1 236 65 316
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