Egyptian activists Alaa Abdel-Fattah, Mohamed Ibrahim, Yahia Hussein Abdel-Had and Egyptian lawyer Mohammed el-Baker saw their future trial postponed after their detention since September 2019. According to ABC News, the court maintains that proceedings have been postponed for defense lawyers to review the trial documents. The four men have been charged with crimes such as spreading fake news, misuse of social media and joining a terrorist group because of their participation in human rights activism. ABC News also reports that Abdel-Fattah’s family accused the Egyptian prison authorities of torture and deprivation of his basic legal rights.
In October 2020, UN experts spoke out on Egypt’s legal system and said “terrorism charges and emergency courts are being used to target legitimate human rights activities.” Reuters reports that Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, the current Egyptian president, said security and stability were of the utmost importance and denied that there were political prisoners in Egypt. In July this year, UN officials also explained that “while they were initially held in pre-trial detention for periods of 15 days, human rights defenders regularly see their detention renewed thereafter, these periods detention without trial, generally for up to two years ”. Last month, President al-Sisi declared that “2022 is the year of civil society” after coming under pressure to expand human rights in Egypt. However, Egyptian activists believe the fixes were cosmetic. Azza Soliman, an Egyptian women’s rights activist, said of the government’s response: “We want evidence. The proof would be to respect the Constitution, release prisoners and allow civil society groups to work freely. “
The actions of the Egyptian government are human rights violations because it jails people for committing the “crime” of free speech. Many activists accused of terrorists have no connection with the various groups they are accused of belonging to. So far, most of the changes implemented in the Egyptian government have been entirely superficial and there has been no difference in the way policies are implemented. The problems of the legal system need to be addressed.
The Egyptian government has increased the imprisonment of political dissidents in recent years, including both Islamists and secular activists involved in the Arab Spring. ABC News reports that Egyptian public figures have urged authorities to release activists detained for years, but there has not been much movement. Abdel-Fattah, one of the activists detained for two years and still awaiting trial, was one of the leading figures of the Arab Spring in Egypt and has been described as “the icon of the revolution” according to the BBC. The US State Department withheld $ 130 million from the Egyptian military in September this year due to human rights violations. The New York Times reports that there has been progress after this decision was made, but the issue is far from resolved.
Egypt has a history of political corruption and censorship, and so far the government’s promises have been in vain. While the government maintains that there are no political prisoners and works to implement a strengthening of human rights in its country, tens of thousands of political dissidents have been jailed recently. In 2011, it took 18 days of protest for the government to listen to the Egyptian people and drive out corrupt politicians, but there are still many issues to be addressed. The imprisoned activists must be released and there must be a monumental change in the Egyptian legal system.