Egypt: EOHR Welcomes the Initiative to Release Some Prisoners

press release

The Egyptian Organization welcomes the decision of President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi to the presidential pardon of 560 of the prisoners, including Abdel Halim Qandil.

President Abdelfattah al-Sisi has issued a decree No. 232 of 2019. It states that the names of those listed on this list shall be exempted from the original penalty or the affiliated penalty, unless any of them is sentenced in other cases. The list which was published in the official newspaper included 560 names, most notably the former editor-in-chief of "Voice of the Nation", Abdul Halim Qandil.

The organization also welcomes the decision issued by the Public Prosecution on Monday 20/5/2019 to release five prominent dissidents: Ambassador Masoum Marzouq, former Assistant Foreign Minister, Abdul Fattah Al-Saeed Al-Banna, Dr Raed Salama and Yahya Al-Qazzaz and activist Nermin Hussain.

The released were arrested earlier under a warrant issued by the Public Prosecutor's Office to investigate the case in which they were accused of "joining a banned group, disturbing peace and public security, and spreading false news." Furthermore, it has issued rulings to imprison them and renew their imprisonment several times before the prosecution decided yesterday to release them under pending investigation.

In this context, the organization welcomes such initiatives as a significant step towards the promotion of human rights, the rule of law and the constitution. It also calls upon the president Abdel Fattah al-Sisi to enforce the constitution, including Article 155, which grants him the right to pardon the penalty when it is final.

Additionally, the organization reiterates its call for the immediate release of all those arrested for using their constitutional right to express their opinion.

The Egyptian legislator should also review all the legislations that restrict freedom of opinion and expression in accordance with the competent international instruments, as well as avoiding the flexible or vague language of this legislation, which can be interpreted in more than one way, allowing the authorities to criminalize peaceful opinions.

For his part, Dr Hafez Abu Saeda, the president of the organization, said that reviewing the status of prisoners would be a good and important step to promote the principles and values of human rights, enrich dialogue within Egyptian society and open the door to presenting different opinions.

He called for the amendment of the penal code and criminal procedures in line with modern penal doctrines, which ensure the reduction of the use of sanctions against freedoms.

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