Ahmed Maher- YOUM7 (Archive)/ HusseinTallal
CAIRO – 6 March 2017: Amnesty International said Egypt is using excessive probation measures as its latest tactic to harass activists, in a report published Monday.
“In some cases, extreme conditions have been imposed, with activists released from prison forced to spend up to 12 hours a day in a police station,” Amnesty International said, adding that it documented over 13 cases where “excessive and arbitrary” probation measures were used against activists.
“Abuse of probation has become the latest tool at the disposal of the authorities to crush dissent,” said Najia Bounaim, Deputy Director for Campaigns at Amnesty International’s regional office in Tunis. She called for “the Egyptian authorities [to] lift all arbitrary probation measures and order the immediate and unconditional release of activists who have been detained or imprisoned solely for exercising their rights to freedom of expression or peaceful assembly.”
Nasser Amin, human rights lawyer and member of the National Council for Human Rights, told Egypt Today, “A lot of the verdicts issued against activists are accompanied with a probation period which can be as long as the initial period of imprisonment,” adding that such measures are being used with increasing frequency.
Police probation can be ordered by the judge presiding over a case as part of the defendant’s sentence. It “requires the released prisoners to spend a number of hours at a police station on a daily or weekly basis,” Amnesty International said, adding that during this time, they cannot receive any visits or communicate with anyone outside the station.
“This punitive measure should only be implemented in criminal cases, on those accused of dangerous criminal crimes such as armed robbery … and only if they are classified as extremely dangerous,” Amin said, adding that this approach should not be used against activists since they are usually charged in political rather than criminal cases.
“There is no need for such measures since they already served their prison sentence,” Amin said, pointing out cases like that of Ahmed Maher, a political activist and founder of the 6 April Youth movement who was released after three years of prison and whose probation period is set to almost 12 hours a day.
Foreign Ministry spokesperson Ahmed Abu Zeid was not available to comment.
Other cases documented by Amnesty International include Mohamed Adel, a 6 April leader charged in the same case as Maher; Abd el-Azim Ahmed Fahmy, known as Zizo Abdo, detained in 2016 on charges of “inciting the public to participate in an unauthorized protest;” and Ahmed Kamal, “currently in pre-trial detention on charges of belonging to a banned group.”
Adel spent three years in prison and has three years of probation for twelve hours every day. Fahmy was imprisoned for five months, then placed under police probation for two hours three times a week, until the court ordered his detention again for failing to present himself at the police station during his probation hours on Feb. 8.