Egypt: Founder of 6 April Youth Movement Released From Prison but not Completely Free

Ahmed Maher

On 5 January 2017, Ahmed Maher Ibrahim Tantawy, founder of the 6 April Youth Movement, was released after having served a three-year sentence. However, he remains under judicial supervision for three more years, a measure which entails that the activist must spend every night in police custody at his district police station from 6 pm to 6 am.

Tantawy was condemned on 22 December 2013, alongside with the movement’s cofounder Mohamed Adel Fahmi and Egyptian blogger Ahmed Saad Douma Saad, to three years of imprisonment for “taking part in an unauthorised protest”, “attacking security forces” and “disturbing public order”. On 7 April 2014, the Court, sitting at the Tora Police Academy – under the Ministry of Interior’s authority – upheld the sentence. Few weeks later, the 6 April Youth Movement was banned on the motive that the group “tarnished the image of the Egyptian State” and that its members “conspired against the national interests” and made “illegal contacts with foreigners”.

The sentence was pronounced to punish them for having peacefully demonstrated on 27 November 2013 along with campaigners of the “No Military Trials for Civilians” group which gathered in front of Egypt’s Shura Council – the upper house of Parliament – to  denounce military  trials of civilians and the extremely restrictive Law No. 107 of 2013 on the Right to Public Meetings, Processions and Peaceful Demonstrations, which has been used to crackdown on civil society.

On 3 December 2015, upon Alkarama’s request, the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (WGAD) characterised in Opinion No. 49/2015 the detention of the young activists as violating their fundamental right to liberty. The experts also expressed their deep concern over the Egyptian authorities’ harassment of human rights defenders and journalists in retaliation for their legitimate human rights activities. In their decision, the UN experts therefore requested the government to immediately release the activists and to provide them with adequate remedy, including reparation and compensation for the violations suffered.

“Not only Ahmed Maher was unfairly detained but the judicial supervision imposed on him unduly restricts his freedom and continues to deprive him arbitrarily of his liberty,” said Radidja Nemar, Legal Officer for North Africa at Alkarama. “While Mohamed Adel Fahmi, Ahmed Saad Douma Saad and scores of human rights activists and bloggers remain in detention for merely peacefully opposing the government’s repression, the recent Law on Associations as well as the new media regulations show that Egypt’s crackdown on civil society is going from bad to worse”, she continues.

On 12 January 2017, Alkarama seized the WGAD of the undue restrictions imposed on Ahmed Maher despite his release and requested the experts to urge Egypt to release the two other activists.

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