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UN calls for release of human rights activists in Egypt

March 14, 2023 at 9:31 am

The UN Special Rapporteur on Extreme Poverty and Human Rights, Olivier De Schutter [@srpoverty/Twitter]

The UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders said yesterday that she is following the prison sentences issued against lawyers and human rights activists in Egypt with concern. Mary Lawlor also called for their release.

“We have not received any responses to any of the detainees’ cases, and I ask the Egyptian authorities to release them all,” Lawlor told Al Jazeera. “We are receiving complaints about bad conditions, torture and physical abuse in Egyptian prisons.”

The Emergency State Security Court issued prison sentences on 5 March ranging from five to 15 years to activists from the Egyptian Coordination for Rights and Freedoms in a case dating back to 2018. Lawyers Ezzat Ghoneim and Mohammad Abu Horayra were sentenced to 15 years in prison, while activist Aisha Khairat Al-Shater was sentenced to 10 years. Lawyer Hoda Abdel Moneim, a former member of the National Council for Human Rights, was sentenced to five years in prison.

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The Public Prosecution found the defendants guilty of many charges, including joining a terrorist cell and planning to commit hostile crimes. Some were charged with financing terrorism, possession of firearms, planning to commit hostile operations, and using communication sites to exchange information between members of the alleged “cell”.

The rulings by the court are considered to be final after the President of the Republic approves them. There is no appeal and no other litigation stages beyond this one. The court’s decision has sparked widespread condemnation from local and international human rights organisations, activists and lawyers.

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