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Amnesty calls on Egypt to stop trials by emergency courts

November 1, 2021 at 11:23 am

The Supreme Constitutional Court in Cairo [KHALED DESOUKI/AFP via Getty Images]

Amnesty International has called on Egypt to stop using emergency courts to detain human rights advocates where “proceedings are inherently unfair.”

The watchdog’s comments come as three prominent human rights advocates are due to appear in an emergency court.

Alaa Abdelfattah, his lawyer Mohamed Baqer, and the blogger known as Oxygen are due to face charges for allegedly undermining national security following over two years in pretrial detention.

They have been denied access to lawyers and regular family visits. Recently, Abdelfattah admitted to his lawyer that he was suicidal, whilst Oxygen tried to commit suicide in August after being denied family visits for months.

Amnesty has said that these state security courts violate fair trial standards because defendants are not allowed to appeal their convictions.

READ: Egypt lifts state of emergency first imposed in 2017

They are also not allowed time to prepare their defence, communicate with their lawyers or have a public hearing.

Whilst the recent lifting of the state of emergency in Egypt means that new cases cannot be referred to these emergency courts, those who had already been referred can still stand trial in them.

Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi announced on 25 October that he would not extend the state of emergency in Egypt that has been in place since 2017 after the twin church bombings which killed dozens of people.

However, in the three months preceding this decision the government referred roughly 20 activists, rights workers and opposition politicians to emergency courts. At least 146 cases have been tried in these emergency courts since April 2017.

Other rights defenders being tried by emergency courts are Patrick Zaki, who was studying in Bologna in Italy, former parliamentarian Zyad El-Elaimy, politicians Hisham Fouad and Hossam Moanis and human rights lawyer Hoda Abdelmoneim.

For the lifting of the state of emergency to be a “meaningful step towards addressing Egypt’s human rights crisis the authorities must immediately and unconditionally release those facing trial before emergency courts solely for peacefully exercising their human rights,” Amnesty said.