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Egypt: 1,700 prisoners 'rotated' in pretrial detention since December 2021

Watch towers at Tora prison in the Egyptian capital Cairo. [KHALED DESOUKI/AFP via Getty Images]
Watch towers at Tora prison in the Egyptian capital Cairo 15 September 2020 [KHALED DESOUKI/AFP/Getty Images]

At least 1,764 Egyptian prisoners have been rotated in pretrial detention between January 2018 and December 2021, a punitive measure used by the Egyptian regime to extend the amount of time detainees are imprisoned.

Of this number, 33 were minors, 28 were doctors and 43 were lawyers.

The Transparency Centre for Research, Documentation, and Data Management in partnership with the Arab Foundation for Civil and Political Rights compiled a report on the matter and told Mada Masr that rotation is "a human rights violation that is systematically carried out for political aims."

Under Egyptian law, a prisoner can only be held in pre-trial detention for two years and it is supposed to be used as a measure of last resort.

As a way of bypassing this, or an acquittal or court order for their release, the prosecution orders that detainees are rotated back into detention on similar charges like "joining a terrorist group."

The punitive measure is growing at an alarming rate. In 2021 1,456 detainees were rotated compared to 843 in 2020 and 306 in 2019.

READ: Egypt: Fears grow for Alaa Abdelfattah as he reaches 45 days on hunger strike

A former leading member of the 6 April movement and dentist Walid Shawky was arrested in 2018 and began a hunger strike earlier this year to protest still being in pretrial detention.

After spending two years on remand a court ordered that Shawky be released on probation but instead of releasing him, prison authorities forcibly disappeared him for a month and charged him with participating in protests in 2020 even though he was detained at the time.

Shawky was released in April this year.

In 2019, a court ordered that Ola Qaradawi be released after two years in pretrial detention, but she was then detained on another case a day later and returned to solitary confinement.

Ola was released from jail last year

Amnesty International has said that the authorities' growing trend of revolving prisoners "is an alarming signal of how decayed the country's justice system has become."

There are roughly 60,000 political prisoners in Egypt who are systematically tortured and held in squalid conditions.

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