Pretrial detention topmost on National Dialogue agenda: Rashwan

Amr Kandil , Wednesday 3 May 2023

​A few hours ahead of the launch of the long-awaited ‘National Dialogue’ in Egypt, which kicks off on Wednesday, its general coordinator stressed that the issue of pretrial detention would be at the top of the human rights discussions agenda during the dialogue’s sessions.

National Dialogue
General Coordinator of the National Dialogue Diaa Rashwan. File photo


“The pretrial detention, in my opinion, will be one of the most important outcomes of the dialogue,” General Coordinator of the National Dialogue Diaa Rashwan told Kelma Akhira TV programme on Tuesday night.

He added that the dialogue received many draft bills to amend the provisions of pretrial detention in the penal code and criminal law.

The human rights axis of the dialogue will comprise seven topics, including any torture cases, Rashwan stated, adding that "torture is a crime that is not subject to a statute of limitations per the Egyptian constitution."

‘Reassurances’ about Case 173

Rashwan noted that he has received “reassurances” that Case 173 of 2014, in which Egyptian and foreign Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) faced charges of receiving illegal foreign funding, will be closed “very soon.”

Rashwan said 12-15 NGOs are still charged in the case, which originally included 43 Egyptian and foreign NGOs operating in Egypt.

Over the past few years, charges of receiving illegal foreign funding pressed against many of the NGOs in the case have been dropped as per consecutive judicial rulings due to insufficient evidence.

Human rights organisations have been calling for closing Case 173 to ensure freedom for NGOs and human rights groups.

In a statement on Tuesday, the Egyptian Presidential Pardon Committee, revived by President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi in April last year, pledged a “positive spirit” with regard to Case 173 with the start of the National Dialogue.

Releasing prisoners

Since President El-Sisi called for a national dialogue in April of last year, the Public Prosecution has released more than 1,200 pretrial detainees and the president pardoned more than 15 who were serving prison sentences, Rashwan said, calling for more releases.

He added that only a few of its members of the Civil Democratic Movement — a bloc including 12 opposition parties and groups — remain in prison, with the exception of one or two Ahmed Douma.

Launch of dialogue

The General Coordinator said Wednesday’s inaugural session of the dialogue will be held at 3pm in the Nefertiti Hall of the Cairo International Convention Center in Nasr City.

The inaugural session will see the participation of foreign ambassadors, representatives of political parties, professional and labour unions, civil society groups, public figures, and a number of released prisoners.

Amr Moussa, the former Egyptian foreign minister and head of the outgoing 50-member committee tasked with amending Egypt's 2012 constitution, will deliver a speech at the session.

Nasserist politician Hamdeen Sabahi, former presidential candidate, and political expert Hossam Badrawy will also deliver speeches at the session along with speeches by around 20 other speakers, Rashwan stated.

Local media will be allowed to attend the dialogue’s session by presenting their credentials and letters of accreditation, Rashwan said.

 Over 50 foreign correspondents, who have received invitations from the State Information Service (SIS), will also attend the session.

The dialogue aims to find common ground between the forces regarding priority issues on the political, economic, and social fronts.

Rashwan has repeatedly noted that that discussions will take place within the dialogue “without any red lines.”

President El-Sisi had called for a national dialogue that brings together all political forces “without discrimination,” except for those who were involved in violence and violent acts over the past years.

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