Tuesday,24 October, 2017
Current issue | Issue 1231, (29 January - 4 February 2015)
Tuesday,24 October, 2017
Issue 1231, (29 January - 4 February 2015)

Ahram Weekly

Freedom granted

More presidential pardons are expected following the release of 100 young detainees. Ahmed Morsy reports

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Al-Ahram Weekly

“In recent days 100 prisoners have been released,” Interior Minister Mohamed Ibrahim told a press conference on Monday.

Ibrahim’s statement followed promises made by President Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi, during a visit this month to the United Arab Emirates (UAE), that pardons were being considered for jailed minors and detained activists who were not involved in violent crimes.

“The Interior Ministry is preparing a list of young people wrongly arrested or detained over minor charges who can be released before the fourth anniversary of the 25 January Revolution,” Al-Sisi told the media during his visit.

“The list is currently being revised and includes cases highlighted by the media and by Egyptian human rights organisations. We want to send a message that young people are not being targeted.”

According to Gamal Eid, director of Arab Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI),  “The 100 released prisoners are mainly students on pre-trial detention pending investigations and not yet sentenced.”

The president issued a decree pardoning prisoners on the fourth anniversary of the 25 January Revolution. The decree specified that only prisoners handed a final verdict and who have served half their sentence would be eligible.

On 22 January the Interior Ministry’s Prison Authority announced that 584 prisoners would be released to mark the anniversary of the 25 January revolution, which is also Police Day. Later reports confirmed that some prisoners were released, but not the entire 584.

“The next few days will see additional batches of detainees being released,” Ibrahim said at Monday’s press conference.

By the time Al-Ahram Weekly went to press, however, no additional prisoners had been freed.

“On Thursday we submitted a list of 600 pre-trial detainees and students whose cases should be reviewed for release,” said George Ishaaq, a member of National Council for Human Rights (NCHR). “The NCHR earlier submitted a list of 170 students, not involved in violent acts, to the cabinet, to be considered for release to mark the birth of the Prophet. So far 120 out of the 170 have been freed.”

Of the latest list of 600 detainees, Ishaaq says, “There is no need to rush the decision. The committee responsible for reviewing the names needs time to consider carefully.”

The Egyptian Organisation for Human Rights (EOHR) reports that it has submitted its own list of 206 detainees to be considered for release, the majority of them students.

“Almost all the young people on our list face charges related to the protest law. None of them are accused of violent acts towards the police,” says EOHR head Hafez Abu Saeda.

Hundreds of protestors have been arrested since November 2013 for violating a controversial protest law that criminalises participants in any demonstration held without being granted prior permission by the Interior Ministry.

“The list includes defendants accused of demonstrating in front of the presidential palace and journalists from Al-Jazeera during the rule of former president Mohamed Morsi,” Abu Saeda said.

“It includes the names of defendants who have had final verdicts issued against them. It would send a positive sign were the president to grant them pardons, and we hope to see similar initiatives freeing detainees in the future.”

Meeting with political parties two weeks ago, Al-Sisi asked party representatives to compile lists of their members who were unjustly arrested. Al-Dostour Party presented the names of nine detainees it said met the conditions specified for a presidential pardon.

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