Activists remain in custody, court to pronounce verdict Oct 26

Thursday 16-10-2014 06:36 PM
Activists remain in custody, court to pronounce verdict Oct 26

CAIRO, Oct 16 (Aswat Masriya) – A Cairo Misdemeanour court will pronounce its verdict in the case of 24 defendants charged with violating the protest law on Sunday, October 26, while keeping the defendants in custody, sister of jailed activist Sanaa Seif, Mona, wrote Thursday on her Facebook page.

Seif, sister of prominent political activist Alaa Abdel Fattah, was arrested alongside 23 others on June 21 while taking part in a march calling for the repeal of the protest law and the release of all those arrested on background of the law. She has been referred to a misdemeanour court, alongside 23 other protesters, for illegal assembly, vandalism and displaying force.

A Cairo Misdemeanour court had postponed on Saturday the trial of the 24 defendants charged with violating the protest law to Thursday, October 16, while keeping the defendants in custody.

Former interim President Adli Mansour issued the protest law on November 24 to regulate peaceful assembly. The law has long been the epicentre of wide criticism by domestic and international human rights organisations which say it violates international standards for peaceful protests.

The legislation obliges demonstrators to inform the authorities of their intention to assemble three days prior to their scheduled events. It also gives the interior ministry the right to cancel, postpone or move protests.

International human rights watchdog Amnesty International described the law as "repressive" and called for the release of all those in detention for "defying" it.

“This appears to be yet another show-trial based on scant and dubious evidence that is intended to be a clear warning to anyone who defies Egypt’s protest law,” said Philip Luther, Director of Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Programme, in the statement commenting on October 11 trial. “The case provides the latest proof of the Egyptian authorities’ determination to quash peaceful protest and stifle all forms of dissent."

Among those facing trial is human rights defender Yara Sallam, transitional justice officer at the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR). Sallam was reportedly arrested with her cousin while buying water from a kiosk in Cairo's Heliopolis neighbourhood, where the June 21 protest was held.

Sallam remained in detention and faced official charges despite the release of her cousin the next day, which causes Amnesty International to believe the human rights defender is being persecuted for her activism.

“The charges against Yara Sallam, who did not even participate in the protest in question, are completely farcical," Luther said. "She has been kept in detention and put on trial because of her work as a human rights defender. She is a prisoner of conscience and must be released immediately and unconditionally.”

The Egyptian Centre for Economic and Social Rights (ECESR) filed on Saturday a lawsuit at the Supreme Constitutional Court, Egypt's top court, challenging the constitutionality of articles in the law.

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