New EIPR Report: Emergency court should acquit ECRF members

(EIPR)  issued a report titled “HRDs in front of emergency court: the trial of members of the Egyptian Coordination for Rights and Freedoms (ECRF)” in which it called for the acquittal of lawyers Hoda Abdel Moneim, Mohamed Abu Huraira, Ezzat Ghoneim, and Mrs. Aisha Al-Shater, members of ECRF, after they were indicted in connection with the Supreme State Security Emergency case no. 1552 of 2018, in which the ruling will be issued next Sunday, March 5, 2023.

EIPR - whose lawyers participated in the defense of the four human rights defenders - said that the members of ECRF had spent more than four years in pretrial detention in violation of the law. During that time they were subjected to detention in deteriorating conditions, in addition to being prevented from receiving visits for varying lengths of time and depriving them of their right to obtain decent health care. In addition, several of them were subjected to illegal detention and recycling of charges in new cases to prolong their pre-trial detention illegally.

In this report, EIPR conducts a legal analysis of the indictment and trial referral order, issued by the Supreme State Security Prosecution in August 2021, nearly three years after the case commenced, and only a few weeks before the launch of the National Human Rights Strategy. The referral following three years of detention also took place just a few weeks before President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi's announcement that he will not be imposing a state of emergency again after successive emergencies lasted for nearly five years. The report reviews the   preliminary investigations  and seizure records issued by the National Security Investigations (State Security) officers, and the investigation files conducted by the Public Prosecution with the defendants and witnesses.

EIPR stresses that an acquittal verdict is the only logical decision based on the papers, which demonstrate that multiple violations occurred against the four members of the ECRF, in addition to the complete absence of real and firm evidence convicting them, which are matters that the State Security Criminal Court is supposed to take into account before issuing a verdict against them.

The report recommends that, in addition to issuing a verdict of acquittal, the text of the Code of Criminal Procedure should be respected, and all those held in pretrial detention for a period that exceeded the legal maximum limit should be immediately released. It calls on the prosecution to stop bringing identical accusations to the same individuals pending different cases, and to close the cases that have been open for years without completing, or even conducting any investigations or revealing evidence. The report stresses the importance of amending the Emergency Law to ensure that that defendants are allowed to appeal the sentences issued against them, as well as amending the Anti-Terrorism Law No. 94 of 2015 to put in place a tighter and more detailed definition of a terrorist and a terrorist crime. Finally it recommends reviewing the text of Article 40 of the same law to ensure that the accused are not kept in unknown or illegal places of detention, and to review the separate articles of the law related to publishing and speech, and to ensure that no freedom depriving  penalties are imposed in any cases related to publishing.