After Menna Abdel Aziz’s release and the prosecution's decision that there are no grounds in bringing a case for the charges against her, EIPR calls on the prosecution to take the same approach in similar cases to protect victims of sexual violence
The Public Prosecution decided on Wednesday, September 16, to release Menna Abdel Aziz (Aya), and the decision entailed that there are no grounds to bring a case against her in Case No. 3328/2020 - Talbiya Administrative, and this last decision of the Public Prosecution is a judicial order that means the Prosecution will no longer consider proceeding with the investigation and referral to trial. The Public Prosecution issued a decision yesterday after Menna spent 114 days detained as a defendant in pretrial detention - a procedure that was later replaced by her being placed, and ordered not to leave, in one of the Ministry of Social Solidarity shelters for hosting and protecting battered women. Menna was charged with several charges, including the vague accusation known as "violating Egyptian family values" based on Article 25 of the" Cybercrime Law”, these charges were automatically dropped as soon as the prosecutor’s last decision was issued yesterday. The accusations were brought against Menna and she was detained as a result of interrogating her as a victim of rape, kidnapping, robbery, beating and forcible filming, and the publication of this photographed material by a group of five individuals, and the prosecution referred the assailants to trial in parallel with Menna's detention on July 26th.
Hoda Nasrallah, a lawyer at EIPR, and Menna Abdel Aziz’s lawyer, commented that the Public Prosecution applied the spirit of law by issuing its decision that there were no grounds to bring a case against Menna. She added, "The prosecution has used its discretionary powers to not refer Menna to trial in the accusations that it previously levelled against her. It is a power that we have previously requested the prosecution to use in similar cases, especially since the prosecution has based its earlier accusations on the statements of the perpetrators who tried to fabricate the accusations against the victim as a means to defend themselves. We hope that the prosecution will use this authority early in the other cases and before the start of the investigation procedures, so as not to harm the victims or witnesses. "
EIPR thanks everyone who showed solidarity with Menna Abdel Aziz and supported her during the period of interrogation, detention, and until her freedom was restored. EIPR hopes that the prosecution’s decision not to proceed with the referral of Menna Abdel Aziz to trial is a precedent that will be generalized to the rest of sexual violence cases, through the prosecution’s use of its inherent right to suspend investigations or counter-reports that the victim of sexual violence may face once they report the incidents of abuse. Most of these judicial procedures are either based on the perpetrators' allegations while defending themselves, or on statements made by the victim during investigations and are not necessarily related to the incident of sexual violence. The generalization of this legal procedure in cases of sexual violence against women would contribute to dispelling the fear created by the previous filing of accusations against Menna and others, and to send a message to women and girls that their pursuit of their constitutional and legal rights in the event of sexual violence will not place them in the position of liability or accusation. This approach will also encourage the victims and witnesses to participate actively in the investigations of cases of sexual violence without fear that they themselves will become accused.