Egyptian parties and MPs welcome prosecution decision to release 33 more pretrial detainees

Gamal Essam El-Din , Tuesday 8 Aug 2023

The Public Prosecution's decision to release 33 pre-trial detainees, including political activists Youssef Mansour and Ahmed Hassanein and economist Omar El-Shenety, was highly welcomed by Egyptian political parties and MPs.

Egyptian economist Omar El-Shenety following his release on Monday with friends and family. Photo : Facebook


The liberal Al-Wafd party said in a statement on Tuesday "We highly welcome the policy of pardoning and releasing pretrial  detainees as this leads to creating  a climate of greater  political openness and respect for human rights."

"The release of a new batch of political activists greatly contributes to advancing the agenda of human rights in Egypt and we are looking forward to the day when Egypt does not have any political activists held in detention or serving prison sentences," said the statement.

MP and leader of Al-Adl (Justice) Party Abdel-Moneim Imam said "We welcome the new decision that led to the release of a new batch of political activists who were not involved in terrorist or violent activities."

"We hope that detainees who belong to the Al-Adl party will be also soon released as this will build new bridges of confidence between political activists and state authorities," said Imam.

He added that "in any case, the move is a very positive step towards creating an effective national dialogue in which all political forces can voice their concerns and views in a civil way and without fear of punishment."

Senator and head of the Egyptian Socialist Democratic Party Farid Zahran said the release and pardoning of a new group of pre-trial detainees, particularly political activists like Youssef Mansour and Ahmed Hassanein and economic researcher Omar El-Shenety, should be a step towards issuing a comprehensive pardon for all political activists.

"In all sessions held by the National Dialogue, we have been keen to stress the importance of releasing all political figures who believe in democracy and who have never been involved in terrorist acts or in inciting violence," said Zahran, who was keen to receive the released activists in person immediately following their exit from Tora prison in south Cairo.

Zahran said that "activists who have been held in custody for more than two years should be released at once in line with the detention law."

"At the same time we see that certain legislations should be amended to limit the detention period," said Zahran.

He noted that "many activists who have never been involved in terrorism or who have used social media to direct criticism to some state policies have been held in pre-trial detention for long periods without justification."

"With the end of terrorism in Egypt and the country recovering stability, the policy of extended pre-trial detention periods should end to create a more democratic atmosphere in which all can express views freely and democratically," said Zahran.

MP and a member of the National Dialogue's Board of Trustees Ahmed El-Sharkawy also welcomed the decision, agreeing that "the policy of releasing and pardoning political activists gives much credibility to the National Dialogue."

"The move shows that the president and state authorities are positively responding to the demands of participants at the National Dialogue to give a message that they are serious about reform and that they want to create a more democratic and open atmosphere in Egypt," said El-Sharkawi.

He noted that "a number between 1500 and 2000 political detainees have been released since President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi first called for a national dialogue in April 2022."

Opposition MP Diaaeddin Dawoud also said in a statement on Tuesday that "we as MPs thank President El-Sisi and the prosecution for their recent decisions to release and pardon greater numbers of pretrial detainees and political activists."

"But we are still looking forward to the day when we do not have any pretrial detainees or political activists and we hope that the Board of Trustees responsible for running the National Dialogue's sessions will exert greater pressure in this respect," said Dawoud.

MP Tarek El-Khouli, a member of the House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee and member of the Presidential Pardon Committee, also said in a statement that "the prosecution's decision and presidential pardons all help create bridges of mutual trust between the political leadership and send a message of confidence about the new republic."

Since April 2022, the Public Prosecution has released hundreds of pretrial detainees as the government embarked on a national dialogue with the opposition and national forces.

In tandem, President El-Sisi issued several pardons for high-profile activists serving sentences after receiving final verdicts in several cases.

The Presidential Pardon Committee, established in 2016 to review the cases of pretrial detainees and others who fulfil certain criteria, was reactivated in April 2022.

The committee receives appeals from entities and political bodies, such as the National Council for Human Rights (NCHR) and Parliament’s Human Rights Committee, and via its website.

The Public Prosecution's decision to release this group of detainees was "warmly and positively received by the National Dialogue's Board of Trustees", according to Diaa Rashwan, the General Coordinator of the Dialogue.

Rashwan stated that the board believes these decisions will contribute to creating a more positive atmosphere for the success of the National Dialogue. 

He added that the board hoped for similar decisions in the future.

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