On Wednesday, the Front for Defense of Egyptian Protesters (FDEP) – a group of Egyptian NGOs and activists providing legal support for protesters – condemned what it called the Egyptian Prosecution's arbitrary methods for renewing detention periods of prisoners at the Abu Zaabal prison north of Cairo.
The front said in a statement that its lawyers have been prevented from attending sessions in which detention periods have been extended. They added that only 20 lawyers have been allowed to attend such meetings, despite numbers of detainees being in the hundreds.
The detention of so many in recent weeks follows the violent dispersal of two major sit-ins, staged by supporters of former-President Mohamed Morsi, on 14 August in Cairo. Many of those arrested had their detention periods renewed on Wednesday, said the FDEP.
Protesters weren't questioned before their detentions were renewed; stripping them of the right to defend themselves and hear charges levied against them, or to request rebuttal witnesses, or be kept up to speed on developments in their investigations, making such renewals seem like "routine" procedure, the FDEP said.
The Front also aired its scepticism regarding the fair questioning of detainees at facilities within Egypt's Prison's Authority and therefore under the direction of the Ministry of Interior. They suggest lawyers have been subject to mistreatment by security personnel, which is not the case when investigations take place at the prosecutor's offices.
The FDEP has urged the General Prosecution's office to safeguard detainees' legal and constitutional rights, calling for impartial and transparent investigations wherever possible, so that detainees can defend themselves adequately with the assistance of lawyers.
According to report published earler this week by the FDEP, almost 1900 protesters were arrested in relation to the dispersal of two pro-Morsi sit-ins on 14 August and in protests that followed. Over 800 civilians and 105 police officers were killed during this period.
Detentions have occurred under a state of emergency, which was declared by Egypt's interim-President the day of the dispersals, and allows administrative detentions for a period of one month.