The presidency started forming youth committees on Sunday assigned to review the conditions of young detainees, possible modifications to the Protest Law, and the media. This comes as a first step in implementing President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi’s decisions issued during the three-day, state-sponsored National Youth Conference held in Sharm El-Sheikh last week.
The committees will be supervised by the presidency. The first will be assigned to check and review the legal situation of detained youth in prisons, according to an earlier statement issued by the presidency.
The decision to establish the Detained Youth Committee was taken during the conference, following a call by prominent writer Osama Al-Ghazali Harb, who asked Al-Sisi to issue a presidential remission for young people detained for nonviolent cases and those who were detained without a judicial verdict.
According to the Constitution, Al-Sisi can issue presidential pardons, but cannot interfere in judiciary matters.
A second committee will be assigned to study suggestions to modify the Protest Law of 2013, which were suggested by young participants during the conference.
The Detained Youth Committee will consist of youth who participated in the conference, including member of parliament Tarek El Kholy and National Council for Human Rights (NCHR) member Mohamed Abdel Azizi, according to Emad Khalil, one of the participants in the conference.
“The formation of the Detained Youth Committee will not include members of the Presidential Leadership Program (PLP), which is sponsored by the presidency. The government will not interfere,” he told Daily News Egypt on Sunday.
The committee is expected to provide a report within 15 days.
Multiple international and Egyptian human rights organisations had previously stated that thousands of citizens were arrested since the ouster of former Islamist president Mohamed Morsi in 2013.
“The National Council for Human Rights will only participate in the preparation of the lists of detained youth pending investigations with the presidency-sponsored committee if an official invitation is received,” lawyer and member of NCHR, Nasser Amin, told Daily News Egypt on Sunday.
The NCHR had previously provided the presidency and other sovereign institutions, including the Interior Ministry, with lists of detained youth who had not been granted trial. These lists included nearly 600 people and were provided upon the presidency’s request, but no action was taken until now, he added.
The Protest Law of 2013 had stirred controversy and outrage among several youth entities, as it stipulates that any gathering of more than 10 people should obtain permission from the Interior Ministry.
The law, which was created and put into action during the era of interim president Adly Mansour, grants the Interior Ministry and security apparatuses the right to suspend any demonstration, even if it had been permitted, in case it threatens the public’s safety.
The conference kicked off with an opening speech by young people speaking about the state’s achievements and praising the government’s performance, in addition to two sessions on education and youth performance in the parliament.
The conference, which came to an end on Thursday, was criticised by some opposition groups.