Responding to the sentencing of six Egyptians, including politicians Zyad el-Elaimy, Hossam Moanis and Hisham Fouad, to between three and five years in prison following an unfair trial by an emergency court simply for criticizing Egypt’s human rights record, economic policy and living standards, Philip Luther, Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Research and Advocacy Director, said:
“It is deeply hypocritical for the Egyptian authorities to punish these opposition politicians shortly after announcing a new human rights strategy. Zyad el-Elaimy, Hossam Moanis and Hisham Fouad have been detained for over two years without trial simply because they sought to form a parliamentary coalition to run in the 2020 elections. All involved in the ‘Hope Coalition’ were subjected to a litany of human rights violations, including arbitrary arrest and detention, enforced disappearance, torture and intimidation.
“Despite ending the state of emergency, the Egyptian authorities continue to use emergency courts to silence those who peacefully criticize Egypt’s abysmal human rights record. These politicians and activists should never have been arrested in the first place and yet they have been convicted and sentenced to prison on charges related to their legitimate criticism of the Egyptian authorities.
“President Al-Sisi must quash the sentences and immediately and unconditionally release all those detained purely for exercising their right to freedom of expression. The authorities must also cease sham trials by emergency courts which fail to respect international fair trial standards, including the right to appeal.”
A Cairo Misdemeanors State Security Emergency Court today sentenced Zyad el-Elaimy to five years in prison, Hossam Moanis and Hisham Fouad to four years and three others to three years and fined them 500 Egyptian pounds (32 USD) each for sharing social media posts and other content critical of Egypt’s human rights record and economic policy. They were convicted of “spreading false news to undermine national security”.
Zyad el-Elaimy, one of the leaders of the Egyptian Social Democratic Party, won a seat in the 2012 parliament, formed after the 2011 uprising in which he was a leading activist. Hossam Moanis is a journalist and spokesperson for the leftist Popular Current Party, while Hisham Fouad is a trade unionist, journalist and socialist politician. Security forces arrested all three of them in June 2019, shortly after they met to discuss how to run in the 2020 elections, and detained them without trial for over two years.
In July 2021, Zyad el-Elaimy, Hossam Moanis and Hisham Fouad were referred to trial before an Emergency State Security Court (ESSC) in a separate case over bogus charges stemming from their peaceful political activities, including their plans to form a secular opposition coalition ahead of parliamentary elections in 2020.
On 25 October 2021, President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi announced he would not extend Egypt’s state of emergency, in force since April 2017, which allowed for the creation of ESSCs. The emergency courts are notorious for denying defendants the right to appeal.
Article 19 of the law governing the state of emergency stipulates that ongoing trials are to continue even after the state of emergency is no longer in force. The president, however, retains the power to authorize, quash or commute sentences or to order a retrial.