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Egypt has renewed pre-trial detention of over 20,000 people in 9 months, says rights group

May 24, 2023 at 10:32 am

Egyptian police officer entering the Tora prison in the Egyptian capital Cairo on February 11, 2020 [KHALED DESOUKI/AFP via Getty Images]

The Egyptian Front for Human Rights (EFHR) has recorded that over a nine-month period Egyptian courts have renewed the pre-trial detention of over 20,000 people on terror related charges.

Throughout this period, Egypt’s general prosecution has only released three people.

Often, when judges issue decisions to extend prisoners’ pre-trial detention they do so without presenting credible evidence, without defendants even being in court and do not allow lawyers to defend their clients.

Amnesty International has previously said that Egyptian authorities routinely use pretrial detention to punish perceived political opponents, activists, or human rights defenders.

Terror-related charges are often levelled against opposition members, former politicians and businessmen and women who have found their assets frozen, that they have been banned from travelling and some have been given lengthy prison sentences.

READ: Egypt court renews the detention of 2 Zamalek football fans on ‘terror’ charges

Human rights lawyer Mohamed El-Baqer has spent over three years in prison, has been added to the terror list and when he is released will possibly be debarred and banned from travelling.

The recent arrest of El-Baqer’s wife, who wrote on Twitter that he had been beaten, gagged and stripped of his clothes whilst in prison, underscored the harsh conditions that political prisoners are held in.

El-Baqer’s pretrial detention was renewed many times before he was eventually sentenced to four years in prison by the Misdemeanours Emergency State Security Court for “spreading false news undermining national security.”

The practice of renewing the pre-trial detention of prisoners is known as rotation and is used by authorities to keep people behind bars beyond the two-year legal limit, which applies for most sentences. Countless and unjustified renewals of pre-trial detention violate defendants’ rights to due process.

There are some 60,000 political prisoners in Egypt who are systematically tortured and denied adequate medical care.

Egypt is one of the top four executioners worldwide, according to a report by Amnesty International.