Egypt: 1526 citizens on terrorism lists for an additional five years further evidences justice system’s deterioration 

Press Release

18 May 2023

The undersigned human rights organizations condemn the decision of the 10th Circuit of the Cairo Criminal Court to include 1526 Egyptians on terrorism lists for an additional five years. We consider this five-year extension, which applies to political activists and human rights defenders, as indicative of the authorities’ persistent deployment of counterterrorism legislation to deprive Egyptians of their basic rights, including the right to free movement or travel, as well as the right to dispose of their property and assets. Inclusion on terrorism lists also entails the deprivation of political rights and social stigmatization. This undermines the Egyptian government’s claims of conducting a genuine National Dialogue that accommodates all critical voices and accepts disagreement with opposition figures, whether they are politicians or human rights defenders.

Recently on 11 May, an announcement was published in the Official Gazette issue dated 16 April 2023, which was not circulated until nearly a month later. The announcement contained the Criminal Court decision on 12 April to approve the extension of Request No. 5 for the year 2018, to include 1526 individuals on terrorism lists for an additional five years, most of whom were defendants in Case No. 620 of 2018, classified as a Supreme State Security case. It is worth mentioning that the list included names of individuals who have passed away years ago, such as former Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi, who died in detention in 2019 due to medical negligence, and Former President of the International Union of Muslim Scholars Yusuf al-Qaradawi, who passed away in September 2022. 

The list also included the detained human rights activist Aisha Al-Shater, who is currently serving a 10-year prison sentence under a ruling by the Emergency Supreme State Security Court. She was convicted after documenting human rights violations on social media platforms. It also included Mohamed Al-Qassas, the deputy head of the Strong Egypt Party, who was sentenced to 10 years in prison in Case No. 440 of 2018, a Supreme State Security case. In addition to the human rights activist Ahmed Abdel Sattar Amasha. In January 2017, the Cairo Criminal Court issued a decision to include the majority of these individuals and others on terrorism lists, and in April 2018, they were re-included by the same court on the basis of Case No. 620 of the year 2018, a Supreme State Security case.

The 10th Circuit’s decision comes amid a spate of recent arbitrary criminal court decisions to include individuals on terrorism lists, upon request from the Public Prosecutor, following security investigation and without questioning the defendants, under the Terrorist Entities Law (no. 8 of 2015). Under this law, individuals are deprived of their fundamental due process rights to a fair and impartial trial, including their right to present their defense and be notified of court decisions.

In mid-April of this year, 81 Egyptians, including human rights activists and political activists, were added to the terrorism lists. Previously, in April 2020, former parliamentarian Zyad Elelaimy and activist Ramy Shaath were also added to the terrorism lists. Similarly, in November 2020, political activist Alaa Abdel Fattah and human rights lawyer Mohamed al-Baqer were included on the same lists. In September 2021, human rights activist Hoda Abdelmoneim, a member of the Egyptian Coordination for Rights and Freedoms, was added to the terrorism lists, followed by Abdel Moneim Aboul Fotouh, the head of the opposition party Strong Egypt, who was included twice on the terrorist lists, in November 2020 and January 2021.

Terrorist list decisions are mostly based on investigations by national security, which included allegations against some individuals of involvement in funding the Muslim Brotherhood. In other cases, inclusion in terrorist lists was based on final verdicts against some individuals in terrorism-related cases. This reflects the ongoing utilization of counter-terrorism laws by the Supreme State Security Prosecution, which broadly define terrorism, to repeatedly target thousands of peaceful government opponents while depriving them of fair trial guarantees. At the same time, the prosecution has failed to initiate serious investigations into the crimes of enforced disappearance and torture, while the courts rely upon confessions coerced under torture and mistreatment. 

In February 2020, the House of Representatives approved an amendment to Law no. 8 of 2015, allowing for the inclusion of companies, unions, associations, organizations, and other entities on terrorist lists. This entails procedures such as freezing the funds or assets owned by the entity, its members, or their share in any joint ownership. United Nations experts have expressed concern about the amended law, considering it a threat to journalists, human rights defenders, opposition party members, and public sector workers. Such legislation also leads to increased arbitrary detention and heightened risk of torture without judicial oversight and due process guarantees, while undermining the right to form associations and to free expression. 

The undersigned human rights organizations demand that the names of all human rights activists and political figures be removed from the terrorism lists, and to stop including more of them as a retaliatory measure for their abuse. The undersigned further demand that the Egyptian authorities amend or repeal the Terrorist Entities Law (no. 8 of 2015) in line with international standards, so that it ensures that human rights are protected in the context of counter-terrorism.

Signatory organizations:

  • Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies 

  • El Nadeem Center

  • Egyptian Front for Human Rights

  • Committee for Justice

  • Sinai Foundation for Human Rights

  • Egyptian Commission for Rights and Freedoms 

  • Association for Freedom of Thought and Expression

  • Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights