Campaign to End the State of Emergency by Human Rights Organizations: Towards the Release of Detainees under the Emergency Law … Egypt without the Emergency Law

Press Release

9 June 2010

On Tuesday, 11 May, the Prime Minister announced in a speech to the People’s Assembly, “As it seeks a two-year extension of the Emergency Law, the government vows before the People’s Assembly not to employ the exceptional measures permitted by the Emergency Law except to confront the dangers of terrorism and drugs and to the degree necessary to confront them…The Emergency Law shall not be used to encroach on liberties or diminish rights…if the issue is not these two dangers…The government also vows to limit provisions of the Emergency Law to those cases that require its application and with the guarantees upheld by the Constitution, the law and international conventions…and this shall be effected under full judicial oversight.” In the same session, an MP raised the question of what ramifications this new formulation of the Emergency Law would have for those currently detained under the law. Speaker of the Assembly Fathi Surour responded unequivocally that “under [my] legal responsibility” it means that any detainee who has not been charged shall be released.

Despite this proclamation, there has been no reduction in security abuses and violations: peaceful demonstrations have been repressed and the Shura Council elections saw arrests, kidnappings, and the use of rubber bullets and tear gas against candidates, campaigners and voters. Nevertheless, we will act and build on the government’s pledges to the People’s Assembly, which it will no doubt boast of before the international community during the meeting of the UN Human Rights Council in a couple of days as part of Egypt’s universal periodic review. We will start with a public campaign to review and document the files of detainees and submit them one after another to the competent authorities to secure the release of those detainees who have not been charged with terrorism or drug-related crimes.

At issue here are anywhere from hundreds of detainees, according to government estimates, to thousands, according to estimates by human rights organizations. They include people who have spent more than ten years in detention without charge or trial, some of whom have received dozens of release orders from courts, yet remain in detention by order of the Interior Ministry. If the President, the Prime Minister and the Speaker of the People’s Assembly have spoken faithfully and truthfully, these detainees must be released immediately. This is the focus and demand of the current campaign.

Since there are no firm figures for the number of detainees or the places of their detention — the Interior Ministry considers this information difficult to specify given the constant flow of release and detention — the campaign will supply a list of phone numbers of rights organizations and attorneys in various governorates, and it urges the families of all detainees to register the names of their detained loved ones and the conditions of their detention either with the campaign headquarters in Cairo or the governorates or electronically on the website that the campaign will soon launch. This will enable the campaign to follow their cases and pursue the measures necessary to secure their release.

The following organizations are part of this campaign:

Alkarama Foundation
Association for Freedom of Thought and Expression
Association for the Assistance of Prisoners
El Nadeem Center for the Rehabilitation of Victims of Torture
The Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights
Hisham Mubarak Law Center

To report a case of detention, please contact one of the following numbers:

Greater Cairo (Cairo, Giza, Qalyoubiya, Helwan, 6th of October)
Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights
8 Mohamed Ali Jinnah, Garden City, Cairo
Tel: 27943606 – 27962682

El Nadim Center for the Rehabilitation of Victims of Violence
Tel: 0164004013

Alkarama Foundation
Ahmed Mefreh
Tel: 0185923784

Hisham Mubarak Law Center
1 Suq al-Tawfiqiya St., 5th floor, Downtown Cairo
Tel: 25758908

Gharbiya and Monufiya
Mr. Sayyid al-Fiqi, attorney with the Hisham Mubarak Law Center lawyers’ network
Tel: 012-454-4946

Suez Canal Zone (Ismailiya, Suez, Port Said)
Mr. Ashraf Abbas, attorney with the Hisham Mubarak Law Center lawyers’ network
Tel: 012-252-6411

Kafr al-Sheikh
Mr. Ismail Abu al-Yazid, attorney with the Hisham Mubarak Law Center lawyers’ network
Tel: 012-369-2282

Ms. Rania Atef
Tel: 010-888-7258/018-444-6315

Hisham Mubarak Law Center, Aswan branch
89 Corniche al-Nil, above Sigal
Tel: 097-230-8306/018-444-6315/012-778-6150