SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) – Egyptian courts on Tuesday slapped 111 anti-regime opponents with different jail terms for unlicensed protests and violence charges. A Cairo court jailed nine activists for two years for staging an unlicensed protest in central Cairo, a judicial source said.
The same court slapped 15 activists charged with unlicensed protesting and riots with three-year jail terms each. The activists were tried in absentia in connection to clashes that broke out between security forces and protesters in Cairo last November.
Meanwhile, a Cairo criminal court jailed 63 anti-regime opponents for 15 years and five others for ten years in connection to violence that erupted during official celebrations of a military victory over Israel on October 6 of last year.
A court in the central Minya province also slapped 18 supporters of ousted president Mohamed Morsi with 18-year jail terms and $18,000 fine each for violence-related charges. The defendants were tried in absentia.
Egyptian authorities have cracked down on dissent since last year’s ouster of elected president Mohamed Morsi by the military, arresting thousands of Morsi’s supporters on violence-related charges. The defendants, however, insist that the charges are “politically driven”.
Egypt minister denies plans to amend protest law
Egypt’s Transitional Justice Minister Ibrahim al-Henedi has denied plans to amend a controversial protest law that has drawn the ire of human rights groups and activists in the country.
“We neither have plans to amend the [protest] law nor has the government asked [to make amendments],” al-Henedi told Anadolu Agency on Tuesday.
He, however, said that amendments proposed by the state-run National Council for Human Rights to the law have been sent to the government, but declined to elaborate about the proposed amendments.
The protest legislation, issued by former military-backed interim president Adly Mansour, stipulates that protest organizers submit written notification to the Interior Ministry three days before staging a demonstration.
The law gives the Interior Ministry the right to deny organizers permission if the planned demonstration is deemed a “threat to security or public safety” or if security conditions are found to be “inappropriate.”
The law also authorizes security forces to use force to disperse demonstrators.
According to the law, violators can either be fined or imprisoned – penalties that have provoked the ire of many Egyptian politicians and activists, who say the legislation curbs freedoms and gives police free rein to bar popular protest.
In recent weeks, dozens of detained Egyptian activists have begun an open-ended hunger strike to protest their ongoing detention under the protest law.
A recent report by the Egyptian Center for Economic and Social Rights, a local NGO, found over 41,000 cases of Egyptians who had been subject to prosecution since last year’s ouster of elected president Mohamed Morsi by the army.
Egyptian authorities continue to deny that any political detainees are being prosecuted, insisting that all those currently held face criminal charges.