At least, 1,464 people inside Egypt’s prisons have crossed the limit of their pre-trial detention, the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Right stated in a report last week.
The aptly named “Detention Without End” report was released soon after Egyptian authorities arrested more than 100 young demonstrators on April 25, for protesting a Egypt-Saudi maritime border agreement.
The activists accuse the President of Egyt, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, of selling the Red Sea islands to broker a secret deal in exchange of Saudi benefits.
Now, two Cairo courts have sentenced these protesters to five years in jail for taking part in “illegal protests.”
The anti-terror court has also fined 79 defendants with 100,000 Egyptian pounds ($11,260) for taking part in the April 25 protest, dubbed as the “Land Day.”
The judgment has brought the total number of people arrested on a single day to 152, after another court in Cairo sentenced 51 protesters to two years in prison.
A number of support groups and lawyers have expressed their anger at the speed of the short mass trials and have expressed concerns over the fairness of the verdict.
Yet this isn’t the first time Egypt has violated human rights in its obsession to eradicate free speech.
Essra El-Taweel, a 23-year-old disabled photojournalist, was seized by the police without any warning while she was eating at a popular restaurant in Egypt and was sent to Qanater prison for women. For 15 days, her family was left in agony over her fate until finally a friend of her sister informed them about her detention.
Throughout her six-month confinement, El-Taweel, who required treatment for an old bullet injury, was denied medical aid, and her detention was renewed several times.
Another case that went viral is 18-year-old Mahmoud Mohamed Hussein, who was arrested while coming home from a peaceful protest in January 2014, just because he was wearing a T-shirt emblazoned “A Nation Without Torture.”
Hussein was held at the abhorrent Appeals Prison behind Cairo Security Directorate, and while it was only meant as a temporary cell, the 18-year-old suffered 25 detention renewal hearings there for over two years.
The Egyptian rights group believes the numbers of detainees mentioned represent only four governorates but highly suspects it is only the tip of the iceberg and fear detention “has become a tool of political punishment without trial or right of defense."
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Banner/Thumbnail Credits: Reuters