Tarek El-Kholy member of the Presidential Pardon Committee. Al-Ahram
In an interview with Egypt’s official Middle East News Agency (MENA), the MP said that the committee will be fulfilling its job, and its job would be done after the release of all eligible for presidential pardon along with their re-integration with society.
The main criterion for the committee is that the detainee or prisoner did not threaten Egyptians' lives nor was a member of a terrorist organisation, he added.
Since the reactivation of the Presidential Pardon Committee in April 2022, more than 1,000 pretrial detainees have been released, and 12 convicts have been pardoned.
Pardons and release orders have included high-profile figures, including political activists Hossam Mones, Yahia Abdel-Hady, and Hisham Fouad, as well as leftist activist and lawyer Haitham Mohamadein.
El-Kholy said that re-integration into society is a crucial step in line with presidential directions not to leave the released prey to the difficult social and economic conditions
“We focus on this issue in the committee to identify the challenges facing each person,” he said.
He pointed out that a common challenge facing those released is finding or returning to jobs. He added that the committee is working with government bodies and civil and private sectors to facilitate the detainee or prisoner’s return to work.
The biggest challenge facing the committee is returning dismissed students to their university because university regulations prevent this, he said. He explained that the committee reports these challenges to the concerned authorities and parliament.
El-Kholy said it was still unclear exactly how many people had been successfully reintegrated into society, as the work is still ongoing.
One of the most critical tasks entrusted to the committee is the issue of imprisoned debtors, the MP said, adding that it has a significant humanitarian dimension and reflects community solidarity and the application of the vast concept of human rights.
Asked about whether the committee would turn into a permanent institution, as some have suggested, El-Kholy stated that he believes the committee has a temporary role and was established for a temporary purpose, which is to review and examine cases related to opinion and expression.
These cases occurred in an exceptional period during Egypt’s fight against terrorism, so it was natural after the situation stabilised that the temporary committee would conclude its work, he added.
The committee was initially established in 2016 to review the cases of those imprisoned for political crimes and others who meet certain criteria set by the committee. However, the final decision on eligibility for pardon rests with the president.
The committee receives appeals from entities and political entities such as the National Council for Human Rights (NCHR) and parliament’s Human Rights Committee, as well as through its website.