Amnesty urges Egypt to stop trials by emergency courts

Amnesty urges Egypt to stop trials by emergency courts
2 min read
31 October, 2021
Many activists, opposition politicians and protesters are still facing trial before Egypt’s Emergency State Security Court (ESSC), where Amnesty says "proceedings are inherently unfair".
Amnesty has said none of the detainees have violated Egypt’s constitution of the right to freedom of expression [Getty]

Amnesty International has called on Egypt to end ongoing trials using emergency courts on arbitrarily detained human rights defenders, as the country lifts its state of emergency. 

Many activists, opposition politicians and protesters are still facing trial before Egypt's Emergency State Security Court (ESSC), where Amnesty says "proceedings are inherently unfair".

According to Amnesty, the ESSC violate fair trial standards, where defendants are denied the right to appeal their sentences in front of a higher tribunal. 

"The lifting of the state of emergency is good news in that the authorities will no longer be able to refer new cases to the emergency courts that were created under it," Philip Luther, Amnesty International's Middle East and North Africa Research and Advocacy director, said.

"However, the news has a sting in its tail. Existing trials before these courts are set to continue, their number swollen by a recent string of referrals of detained human rights defenders and activists," Luther added.

Culture
Live Story

Three activists, including Alaa Abdel Fattah, human rights lawyer and director of Adalah Center for Rights and Freedoms Mohamed Baker, and Mohamed Ibrahim (Mohammed "Oxygen"), will attend an ESSC on account of "spreading false information to undermine national security" through their social media accounts. 

Amnesty has said that the trials are based on "bogus false information charges" and where their social media posts are protected under the right to freedom of expression as they do not incite any violence. 

The three activists have been in pretrial detention for over two years where they have experienced abusive conditions and denied contact with family members and private access to lawyers, claims Amnesty. 

On 25 October, President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi lifted the state of emergency, which was enforced in April 2017 after fatal terrorist attacks killed dozens of Christians. 

Sisi has renewed the 1958 Emergency Law every three months, disregarding article 154 of the constitution, which limits a state of emergency to three months and is renewable only once. 

However, three months before Sisi’s decision, Egyptian authorities placed at least 20 human rights defenders and activists to trial before emergency courts.