Human rights group calls for release of detainees exceeding pre-trial detention limit

Nourhan Fahmy
3 Min Read
Journalists rallied on 10 June 2015 for the occasion Egypt's Press Day to demand the end of journalists' detention amid other legal rights. (DNE photo)

The National Human Rights Group’s Human Rights Defenders’ Program issued Tuesday a model memorandum for the release of detainees who have exceeded the limit for their pre-trial detention, which is set at two years.

The group stated that the aim from the memorandum is to facilitate the work of lawyers and human rights activists, thus contributing to the release of human rights defenders as well as others under pre-trial detention.

Article 143 of the Code of Criminal Procedures states that the period of pre-trial detention during preliminary investigations cannot exceed the third of the maximum penalty for the crime committed. Therefore, it is set at six months for misdemeanour crimes, 18 months for criminal offences and two years in case of crimes receiving the life sentence or the death penalty.

Former interim president Adly Mansour had issued a decision amending the fifth and final paragraph of article 143, which stipulates the conditions upon which pre-trial detention could be extended beyond the set limits.

The three conditions are; if a death penalty or a life sentence verdict is issued, the Court of Cassation appeals the verdict either by transferring the case to a specialised criminal court or addresses the matter itself, and finally the Cassation Court issues an order of detention or transfer depending on the case in question.

Lawyer Mokhtar Mounir stated that all those currently facing pre-trial detention in the well-known cases such as the “dispersal of Rabaa Al-Adaweya” and “dispersal of Nahda” must be released as per article 143 of the Code of Criminal Procedures.

The Arab Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI) had issued a lengthy report on pre-trial detentions in Egypt over the past two years in late May. It featured journalists and students who have been detained without trial, such as photojournalist Mahmoud Abou Zeid (Shawkan) who has been detained for over two years now without a trial.

Shawkan was arrested while covering the security forces’ dispersal of the Rabaa Al-Adaweya and Al-Nahda Squares sit-ins in August 2013.

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