CAIRO: On Saturday, the government released two detainees and renewed the detention of three others; the five had been detained since April 24. The release and subsequent renewal has opened the doors of questioning the legality of such practices by the government. Does the Emergency Law allow for such practice is a question that has been on the minds of activists and legal experts.
“There is a common misunderstanding that I am noticing in the media that the detentions are being done so under the Emergency Law; however this is not the case, says Gasser Abdel-Razek, legal expert at the Egyptian Organization of Human Rights.
“They [the detainees] are being help under the code of criminal procedures and not the Emergency Law, he continues. “Just like if they arrested a murderer, the government is not going to allow him to be out on the streets until a full investigation is conducted.
Abdel-Razek says that he noticed in an Associated Press article written recently, that they were saying activists were being detained under the Emergency Law. However, he quickly called them and told them that this was not the case and they needed to be careful in saying such.
Thus, activists are not detained according to the Emergency Law, but are instead arrested and held in the same manner accorded to a criminal, Abdel-Razek says.
“Pre-trial investigations are conducted by an investigation team, which is why we hear about interrogations so often. The full procedures under the code of criminal procedures must be conducted before a detainee can be released.
Some of the detainees, upon release from prison, have found that they no longer have employment. This brings more legal issues to the forefront of the conversation.
According to Ahmed El Droubi, who was also detained on April 24, but has since been released, the cases against the demonstrators are still open.
“My case, and others like mine, are still open and will probably be so for a long time . they let us go, but warn against further demonstrating as a prerequisite for freeing us, El Droubi says.
While he was released from prison almost two weeks ago, El Droubi was fired from his job and is now in the process of attempting to sue the company for letting him go. He is currently putting together a case against his former employer in order to obtain compensation for being let go.
“It depends on how employers view the labor law, says Abdel-Razek, concerning how an activist could be fired.
“If the employer believes that you are not appearing at work voluntarily they have the right to terminate the contract.
The question remains as to what is voluntary, Abdel-Razek and El Droubi believe. If, for example, an employer can argue that by voluntarily going to a demonstration an activist is arrested, then it would seem that under the labor law that person can be fired.
Upcoming cases will elaborate on this controversy, as the Egyptian courts will have to rule in favor of someone. Will they argue that by being present at a demonstration that is voluntary, and then activists will be hard pressed to recuperate any losses. If the courts rule that detention does not allow an employer to release someone from their occupation, then the activists who have lost their jobs may be able to get compensation for being fired.
“It really depends on how the law is interpreted, Abdel-Razek argues.
Dozens of activists remain in prison. Some have been in prison for over a month.