Around 200 Egyptian prisoners to be pardoned within hours

Hadeer El-Mahdawy , Monday 13 Mar 2017

File Photo: Egypt's Sisi at first National Youth Conference in Sharm El-Sheikh, where he announced the formation of a national commission to review the cases of youth detained in politically-related as well as humanitarian cases. (Photo: Egyptian Presidency)

Around 200 prisoners are expected to be pardoned by a presidential decree in the coming hours, a member of the committee formed under the directive of President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi to pardon youth prisoners confirmed to Ahram Online.

"The prisoners to be pardoned had all received final verdicts in their cases, and are by and large students, or individuals with critical health conditions", the committee's Karim El-Sakka said.

This is the second list of pardon cases the committee has prepared for presidential review.

El-Sakka, a member of the committee founded in October 2016, told Ahram Online earlier that he could not reveal the number or names on the list, but confirmed that "the list includes students, women, people accused of contempt of religion, journalists, and members of a number of syndicates."

The expected pardon could include a number of journalists.

Khaled El-Balshy, a member of the Journalist's Syndicate board and the head of its freedoms committee told Ahram Online that the syndicate submitted a list of about 30 journalists currently in prison it hopes will be released.

"We provided the committee with all the information needed concerning these journalists and recieved more inquires about a number of them. However we were not informed so far of how many, if any, journalists will be pardoned." 

On 17 November 2016, Egypt's President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi pardoned 82 prisoners included on the first list recommended by the committee.

The list mostly recommended students, but also included former TV host and Islamic studies researcher Islam El-Behery and doctor Ahmed Saeid, who were both released.

In late October 2016, El-Sisi formed a committee to review the cases of youth imprisoned in politically related cases as well as humanitarian cases, such as families who have more than one member in jail.

Article 155 of the Egyptian constitution stipulates that the president has the power to issue a pardon or mitigate a sentence after consulting with the cabinet.

The controversial 2013 protest law, which was widely criticised by local and international rights groups, led to the detention of thousands of protesters.

In December, Egypt’s Supreme Constitutional Court issued a ruling deeming Article 10 of the protest law, which permits the country’s interior minister to bar scheduled protests, “unconstitutional.”

The ruling stated that those looking to organise street protests should only be obliged to notify authorities, not required to obtain prior approval.

In January, the parliament’s Legislative and Constitutional Affairs Committee approved a bill to amend the protest law in accordance with a Supreme Constitutional Court verdict.

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