July 25, 2019
In a report, Amnesty International has called on Egyptian authorities to stop using arbitrary overnight probation against political prisoners.
Amnesty said policing was a repressive tactic to intimidate peaceful activists and to silence their voices, after they have been released from prison.
According to the report, the organisation has been informed that about 400 people have been put on probation after they were released from prison after being convicted in various cases.
People on probation spend 12 hours a day at the police station, from evening until the next morning. These individuals are not allowed to receive visits during that period or have access to phones or laptops, and are held in overcrowded, poorly ventilated places with limited access to toilets, the report said.
The report notes that this affects their ability to lead normal lives during their release hours, limiting their right to education, work, family and a private life.
People under surveillance are constantly threatened with ill-treatment and returned to prison, and in other cases are forced to work inside police stations, according to the organisation.
Magdalena Magrabi, deputy director of Amnesty International’s regional office for the Middle East and North Africa, said, “these punitive measures not only violate their rights to freedom of movement, expression, peaceful assembly and association, but can lead to further violations including torture or other ill-treatment, forced labour and exploitation.”
In early July activist and blogger Alaa Abdel Fattah filed a lawsuit against the president and the minister of the interior to allow him to have a laptop and a mobile phone with him whilst he was at Dokki Police department from 6pm to 6am.
Fattah has complained about his treatment on probation since his release in March. He surrenders himself at 6pm every evening to the nearest police station to spend the night locked in a cell until 6am, when he is released again. Thus he is a free man in the day and a prisoner in solitary confinement at night.
This harsh routine obliges Fattah to measure his life by hours over the next five years, following a February 23, 2015 sentence to five years imprisonment and another five years on probation for his participation in a protest against a law restricting the right to demonstrate in 2013.