Human Rights Monitor condemns the unjust 15 month sentences served by Egypt's judiciary today to political activist Mahienour Almasry, poet Loay Alqahougy and journalist Yusuf Shaaban along with 7 others in the Ramleh Station case.
The Cessation Court in Alexandria, Egypt was looking into the appeal to the sentences where they were among 10 who were sentenced to two years in prison and fined 50,000 Egyptian pounds for violating Egypt's protest law in June 2014.Activist Mahienour and journalist Yusuf Shaaban attended the hearing on May 13, where they were later arrested.
The event dates back to March 30, 2013 where they were initially arrested when they were defending their colleague who was charged with assault. They engaged in a sit in outside the Ramleh Police Station as security forces attacked them and clashes broke out between both parties. The participating activists were arrested and accused of attacking security forces and trying to storm police headquarters. They were later brought before the Borg Arab prosecution and were released after investigation.
HRM confirms that peaceful assemblies is the right of any citizen and is not considered a crime forcing police brutality. Egypt has ratified the international convention for political and civil rights where article 21 mandates that the right of peaceful assembly shall be recognized. No restrictions may be placed on the exercise of this right other than those imposed in conformity with the law and which are necessary in a democratic society in the interests of national security or public safety, public order (ordre public), the protection of public health or morals or the protection of the rights and freedoms of others.
The case was unexpectedly reopened in June 2014, and a hearing was scheduled to continue the procedure and the defendants were sentenced to two years and a fine. After an appeal by the defendants' lawyers with the attendance of two of the activists accused they were surprised that they were arrested and the hearing was postponed only to find they were sentenced to 15 months in jail.
For its part HRM condemns the sentences without legal support. It calls on the international community to immediately intervene and oversee the politicized sentence issued by the Egyptian judiciary. It asserts that the case is not the first of its kind nor will it be the last especially with the political tension in the country witnessed following the June 30 events in 2013 affecting not only the freedom and dignity of the Egyptian citizens but also their lives.