The Democratic Path in Egypt During April 2017

9 May, 2017

 The Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (ANHR)

Lawyers for Democracy Initiative

The Democratic Path in Egypt During April 2017

Before we begin

The Democratic Path report is a monthly report issued by The Arabic Network for Human Rights Information through “Lawyers for Democracy” initiative, which was launched by ANHRI in 2014 to monitor the democratic path in Egypt. Besides the monthly reports, ANHRI has released annual reports on the democratic path in 2014, 2015 & 2016, which are available at the “Reports” section on ANHRI’s website through the following link:

http://goo.gl/mSo6hc

Prologue:

The month of April saw the President’s ratification of amendments to a range of laws that were passed by the parliament, which include criminal procedures and terrorism laws and others regulating terrorism entities, emergencies and the judicial authority. These amendments, according to observers, would further intensify the exceptional procedures and restrictions imposed on freedoms and prejudice the independence of the judiciary.

In the meantime, the increasing targeting of human rights defenders continued in April. Upon a court order, lawyer Mohamed Radamad was sentenced to 10 years in prison because of Facebook posts. Human rights defenders also continued to be summoned for investigation over case 173, which is still pending since 2011.

Military trials for civilians were ongoing, as the month witnessed 11 trials for more than 200 civilians. This is in addition to mass executions with the issuing of two death sentences against 23 civilians.

Protest events organized by various powers also continued, as there were 46 different events in the month.

Attacks on media freedoms didn’t stop in April. Lawyers for Democracy monitored 15 different cases of attack against media freedoms in the month.

The details of the democratic path during February 2017 are as follows:

First: Protest Events During this month, the various powers organized 46 protest events, as follows:

– Muslim Brotherhood (MB) and the National Alliance to Support Legitimacy (NASL): 25 protest events

– Social and labor events: 11

– Students protest events: 5

– Civil and Democratic Powers: 2

– Other protest events: 2

– Pro-regime protest events: 1

The following chart shows the percentage of protest events according to the organizing powers

12 protest events were attacked by the security forces, while 34 went unattacked.

The following chart shows the percentage of security attacks on the protest events

MB & NASL Protest Events

In April, the MB & NASL organized 25 protest events, out of which 10 were attacked by the security forces and 15 went unattacked.

The most important demands made by the MB & NASL:

– Demanding the release of prisoners

– Calling for toppling current President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi

– Protesting the declaring of the emergency state

– Protesting the economic conditions

The following chart shows the percentage of security attacks on the MB & NASL protest events

Labor and Social protest events:

Lawyers for Democracy has observed 11 social protest events organized in April, none of them was subject to any attack by the security forces.

The most salient demands of the social and labor protests:

– Prisoners’ families protesting against their relatives’ denial of  health care.

– Suez Youth Graduates protesting against long water cutting

– Teachers in Minya’s Azhar institutes calling for renewing their contacts and their appointment

– Denouncing the country’s economic conditions

Students Protests

In April, 5 protest events took place, and none of them was attacked the by security.

Most important demands of students protests:

– Students of the Higher Institute of Bellis staged a sit-in in front of the institute building to call on the institute administration to obtain them their degree in Civil Engineering department

– Ain Shams students’ protesting against the terrorist acts launched against churches

– Al-Zagazig University’s Law and Commerce Faculty students’ protesting their low GPA in the first semester

Civil and Democratic Powers:

The month of March saw two different protests organized by the civil and democratic powers, and they were both attacked by the security forces.

The first one was in Alexendria to denounce the Alexandria Coptic church attack. Some of its participants were arrested by the security.

The second one was in Tanta to denounce Tanta terrorist bombings. The security forces dispersed the protest after clashes with the Security Director.

Pro-regime protests

There was only one protest supporting the authorities in April. The protest was organized by Al-Minya University faculty members on campus, against the backdrop of the blasts targeting churches in Cairo and Tanta. The protest didn’t subject to any security interference.

Second: Trials

In April, the Egyptian judiciary reviewed 69 ongoing trials regarding public issues, in which there were 6 convictions and 3 acquittals, in addition to death sentence against 23 defendants.

Ongoing trials:

The 69 ongoing trials- which haven’t reached any rulings of adjudication- are as follows:

– 40 trials for the MB and NASL

– 7 trials for Mubarak regime.

– 7 Civil and Democratic Powers trials

– 1 Pro Post-June 30 regime trial;

– 1 trial for two judges in connection with preparing an anti-torture draft law

while the military judiciary presided over 11 military trials for civilians.

The following chart illustrates the percentage of ongoing trials

Most Highlighted MB &NASL Trials:

Cases known as (Public Prosecution assassination, Boulaq al-Dakrur violence incidents, Agnad masr (Egypt Soldiers) group, trial Khairat al-Shater’s sons into Hamas espionage, Atfih police station storming, Mattay police station storming. Al-Fath mosque incidents, Kerdasa massacre, Ansar Beit al-Maqdes group, Sub-Operations Committees).

Most Highlighted Mubarak’s Regime Figures Trials:

Cases known as (Squandering of public money of Ahmed Ezz and Amr Assal, lifting Mubarak’s assets freeze, trial of Sami Mahran on profiteering and abuse of power charges, trial of Hussein Salem and his son, appeal of Mubarak, al-Adlu and Nazeef against their imprisonment for cutting off communications during the January Revolution.

Most Highlighted Civil & Democratic Powers Trials:

Cases known as (Ahly Ultras trial into a hand ball match, Cabinet incidents, and Air defense incidents).

Most Highlighted Post-June 30 regime trials:

Case publicly known as (Ministry of Agriculture bribery)

Military trials for civilians:

In April, the military judiciary reviewed 11 deliberated trials of 209 civilians.

Judiciary Rulings:

In April, there were 6 convictions, 3 acquittals and here are the details:

Rulings of Convictions:

In April, the Egyptian judiciary issued 6 rulings of conviction as follows:

– 2 convictions against MB & NASL

– 2 rulings of conviction against the Civil and Democratic Powers

– 1 conviction against Post-June 30 regime

– 1 conviction against Mubarak-regime figures

The following chart shows the percentage of rulings of conviction

Acquittals:

In April, the Egyptian judiciary issued 3 acquittals as follows:

– 2 acquittals for civil powers and revolutionary youth

– 1 in the military trials for civilians

Death sentences

There were two death sentences in April which were issued against 23 defendants. The details are in the following chart:
Third: Acts of Violence & Terrorist EventsIn April, there were 9 terrorist operations carried out in the various cities, along with 14 counter-terrorism operations. The details are as follows:1- Terrorist attacks
In this month, 9 terrorist operations were carried out, and the explosives went off in 5 of them, while the security forces managed to diffuse 4 explosives, resulting in the injury of 130 and the killing of 51.The following chart illustrates the percentage of terrorist operations & counter-terrorism operationsThe following table shows the number of those killed and wounded.
2- Counter-terrorism operationsIn April, the Egyptian authorities carried out 14 counter-terrorism operations targeting areas described as terrorism hubs by the security bodies. The operations resulted in the killing of 24 from those targeted by the operations and the arrest of 167 others. On the other hand, 5 of the policemen were murdered whereas three others were wounded.Fourth: Crackdown on freedom of expression & media freedomsThere were 21 violations against freedom of expression and press freedom.The following table illustrates the number of violations
The following chart shows the percentage of attacks against freedom of expression and media freedoms
Fifth: Attacks against Human Rights Defenders– During its hearing convened on the 12th of April, Alexandria Criminal Court sentenced in absentia rights lawyer Mohamed Ramadan- who worked for ANHRI at a previous time as part of Lawyers for Democracy Initiative- to 10 years in jail. The court also ordered the lawyer to remain under house arrest for five years and banned him from using social media for the same period, in accordance with Terrorism Law no. 94/2015.
The Public Prosecution referred “Ramdan” to court over charges, including: inciting terrorist acts that would disrupt the public order and endanger the safety, interest and security of the society, intimidating people and putting their lives and public and private rights- guaranteed by the constitution- at risk, harming national unity and social peace, preventing public authorities from carrying out their duties, and this is by using force, violence and threats, and intimidation, while being informed by these goals; against the backdrop of some critical comments posted on his “Facebook” personal page.The lawyer submitted a request to re-carry out his trial proceedings, and a hearing is expected to be set for his re-trial.- On April 13, lawyer and director of Hisham Mubarak Law Center, Mostafa al-Hassan, appeared before the investigative judge, who was mandated to investigate case No. 173 known as NGO case, after being summoned by the investigative judges. Al-Hassan was accused of establishing an organization whose work is similar to that of the civil society organizations without obtaining a license from the Ministry of Solidarity, receiving foreign funding and tax evasion.Al-Hassan denied all the charges attributed to him stressing that “Hisham Mubarak” is a company that offers legal support to victims of human rights abuses in Egypt. As for the tax evasion charge, Hassan refuted it arguing that the center has not made any profit since it was established. All charges were based on the security services’ investigations which were deemed insufficient by the Court of Cassation, turning it a proof of conviction in itself.At the end of the investigations, the judge ordered the release of Mostafa al-Hassan on LE20,000 bail pending probe conducted in the case.- On April 16, the investigative judge assigned to conduct the investigations for case 173/2011, aka the civil society organizations, summoned lawyer Ahmed Ragheb together with the head of Egypt office at Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies (CIHRS), to be interrogated over the case. The two are charged with receiving international funding and running an unlicensed entity, whose penalty may reach to life imprisonment. Another five lawyers from Hisham Mubarak Law Center were also summoned for investigations set on 7 May, 2017.- During its hearing convened on April 19, the Administrative Judiciary Court decided to adjourn the appeal filed by doctors at Al-Nadeem Center for the Rehabilitation of Victims of Violence and Torture challenging the Minister of Health’s decision to shut down the center’s clinic. The court set the hearing of 9 September 2017 to review the appeal.- On April 25, the disciplinary board decided to adjourn the trial of the two judges Asim Abdul Jabbar, deputy head of the Court of Cassation, and Hisham Raouf, the President of Cairo Court of Appeal, who are accused of cooperating with human rights lawyer Negad al-Borai to prepare an anti-torture draft law. The court postponed the two judges’ trial to the 19 June 2017 hearing for reviewing case documents and submitting memos.Sixth: Legislative AmendmentsApril saw the President’s ratification to a number of controversial legislative amendments, which observers deemed to have assaulted freedoms, the independence of the judicial authority and due process.The following is a summary of these amendments:Declaring a state of emergency and amending the Emergency LawIn the aftermath of the brutal terrorist attacks targeting St. Mark Coptic Orthodox Church in Alexandria and St. George Coptic Orthodox Church in Tanta, the President of the Republic declared a state of emergency in the country meaning that the notorious Emergency Law (No. 162 of 1958) would be returned to take effect. This law had long been used at previous times to shut down the public sphere and silence peaceful opponents, before it was expired in the wake of the January 25 Revolution. Imposing a state of emergency would, in turn, increase the exceptional measures that accelerate the crackdown on human rights defenders and political dissidents as well as the curbing of freedom of expression.On April 27, President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi ratified an amendment to the Emergency Law, setting out more exceptional measures. Under this law, “judicial officers may arrest any person who shows indications that he committed a felony or misdemeanor, inspecting his residence, and all places where any dangerous or explosive materials, weapons or ammunition are suspected to be hidden or possessed, or any proceeds of crime, or any instrument to commit it. After obtaining permission from the Public Prosecution, he may be detained for a period not exceeding seven days to complete the collection of inferences.”Judicial Authority LawIn late April, President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi ratified amendments to the Judicial Authority Law, amid rejection by judges and other community leaders who deem the amendments to have undermine the independence of the judiciary and justice system. After judges were choosing themselves the judicial bodies’ head, the law gives the president of the republic the right select the heads of the judiciary authorities, after submitting him nominations with the names of judges who can be appointed.Criminal Procedure Code and Court of Cassation Appeals ProceduresPresident Abdel Fattah al-Sisi has ratified a number of amendments to the Code of Criminal Procedure, which constituted an attack on the guarantees and rules of due process. The most notable amendment included in the bill would allow courts to forgo witnesses and permit the Court of Cassation to review appeals itself, instead of assigning the case to another court to consider a re-trial.Anti-terrorism Act and Terrorist Entities lawPresident al-Sisi approved the amendments to the law of terrorist entities, most notable of these amendments provides for extending the period of submitting the terrorist list and its procedures from 3 years to 5 years.He also ratified the amendments to the anti-terrorism law. Most notable change in this law is  to allow security forces and those with powers of arrest to detain suspects without charge for a 14-day period, instead of 7 as prescribed in the old law.====Note: This report relies on the cases documented by ANHRI and does not necessarily include all the incidents that took place during this month
To view previous democratic path reportshttp://anhri.net/?document_type=reports-and-studies&lang=en
To view “Obscure & Stalled” The Democratic Path in Egypt 2014 Reporthttp://anhri.net/?p=141601&lang=en
To view “One Step Back, Two Steps Further Back” The Democratic Path in Egypt 2015 reporthttp://anhri.net/?p=158569&lang=en
To view “Closed Until Further Notice” The Democratic Path in Egypt 2016 reporthttp://anhri.net/?p=158569&lang=en

[1]     This report does not necessarily include all the incidents that took place during this month, it is rather based on the events monitored and documented by “Lawyers for Democracy” team.

  

Rulings pending the Grand Mufti’s opinion Rulings after receiving the Grand Mufti’s opinion Total
Civilian 20 3 23
Military 0 0 0
Total 20 20 23
Civilians Security forces Perpetrators Total
Killed 46 4 1 51
Wounded 118 12 0 130
Total 164 16 1 181
Physical & Verbal Assaults 1
Prevention from Covering 3
Ongoing Trial and Investigations 4
Confiscation 3
Self-censorship 1
Travel ban 1
Verdicts 1
Banning religious rituals 1
Total 15

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