We condemn the sentencing of leading revolutionary activists in Egypt under the terms of the 2013 Protest Law, legislation described by Amnesty International as “a grave threat to freedom of assembly”. According to the law, protest organisers must apply in advance for permission to hold a demonstration, and it allows courts to impose jail sentences and fines for non-compliance. The law also gives the security forces authority to use lethal force in dispersing ‘unauthorised’ protests.
Ahmed Douma, Ahmed Maher and Mohamed Adel from the 6th April Youth Movement were sentenced to three years in prison and a 50,000 LE (£4000) fine on 23 December 2013, for organising a demonstration without police permission and allegedly attacking police officers. Mahienour el-Massry and Hassan Moustafa from the Revolutionary Socialists in Alexandria received 2 year jail sentences and 50,000 LE (£4000) fines on 2 January 2014 also for organising an unauthorised protest. Other activists from Alexandria who received 2 year jail sentences in connection with the same event include Lu’ay Al-Qahwagi, Amr Hafez, Nasir Abu-al-Hamd and Islam Muhamadein. They join hundreds of other opponents of the current military-backed regime who have been arrested in recent months, as part of a crackdown ostensibly targeting the Muslim Brotherhood.
As members of the legal profession, we note with particular concern that Mahienour el-Massry, a qualified lawyer who is well-known for her work on behalf of detainees in Alexandria, was arrested and beaten in March 2013 when attending a police station with a group of lawyers to represent arrested demonstrators. We call on the Egyptian authorities to take urgent steps to ensure that all those arrested and their legal representatives are treated with respect.
We call for all charges connected with the 2013 Protest Law to be dropped, and for the release of all those Egyptians detained or sentenced for the exercise of their democratic rights.