Today’s appeals court ruling upholding a two-year prison sentence for five activists, who were convicted of allegedly taking part in a protest last year, is yet another example of the unfair and arbitrary nature of Egypt’s criminal justice system, Amnesty International said.
Surgeon and poet Ahmed Said was among the five activists who were arrested and jailed in November 2015 for allegedly taking part in a protest. However, according to defense lawyers working on the case, there is no evidence proving that the protest, as stated in the National Security Agency’s investigations report, actually took place.
The report is based on the investigations of a single National Security Agency officer, but at least two of the activists say they were tortured and ill-treated during interrogation. Some of the offences for which they were convicted, such as assembling without a permit, are in themselves contrary to international standards as they criminalize the exercise of protected human rights, while others, such as disrupting traffic, were unfounded.
“Today’s verdict, coming on the heels of the ‘25 January Revolution’ anniversary, is another sad sign that Egypt’s criminal justice system is itself unfit for purpose,” said Said Boumedouha, Deputy Director of Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Program.
“Ahmed Said and the other activists should never have been on trial in the first place. Their case is one more appalling example of the relentless government campaign to crush independent and critical voices and activists in Egypt today.”
Amnesty International will continue to call for the release of all five, who also include Mostafa Ibrahim Mohamed Ahmed, Karim Khaled Fathy, Mohamed Abdel-Hamid and Gamila Seryel-Dain.