Cairo: 13 April, 2017
The Arabic Network for Human Rights Lawyer (ANHRI) condemned the ruling issued yesterday (Wednesday) by Alexandria Criminal Court sentencing in absentia rights lawyer “Mohamed Ramadan Abdel-Basit” to 10 years of imprisonment. The court also ordered the lawyer to remain under house arrest for five years, and banned him from using social media for the same period. ANHRI deemed the ruling to have been issued according to the notorious Terrorism Law no. 94/2015, which is known as “Terrorism and Other Things” Law; for punishing a citizen for his peaceful expression of opinion. ANHRI argues that this law wastes the principle of proportionality among crimes- if there is one- and punishment, and that it violates the internationally-accepted principle of Prohibition Against Cruel and Unusual Punishment.
The Public Prosecution referred “Ramdan solely to the Criminal Court over flimsy charges, including: inciting terrorist acts that would disrupt the public order and endanger the safety, interest and security of the society, intimidating people and putting their lives and public and private rights- guaranteed by the constitution- at risk, harming national unity and social peace, preventing public authorities from carrying out their duties, and this is by using force, violence and threats, and intimidation, while being informed by these goals. As stated in the investigations, the prosecution accused “Ramadan” of establishing a website on the social networking site “Facebook”, through which he used to publish posts and phrases that “call for disturbing the public order, harming the national unity and social peace, and stirring public opinion with the intention of undermining trust in the current regime and toppling the state.”
The Prosecution also charged the rights lawyer with creating a website on one of the social networks (Facebook) to promote ideas and beliefs that call for terrorist acts, as mentioned in the investigations and the referral order sending Moahmed Ramadan to the court upon Law 94 of 2015 with regard to combating terrorism.
ANHRI said, “Bringing Ramadan to trial over the ruling issued against him is based on malicious and fabricated investigations, which are prepared by the National Security Service in retaliation against Ramadan for his activism in the defending of political detainees and human rights violations’ victims in Alexandria”.
ANHRI stressed that this unjust verdict indicates, with evidence, that Terrorism Law includes many vaguely-worded articles that are being used in cracking down on citizens, who are practicing their constitutional right for peaceful expression of opinion. ANHR deemed the above-mentioned ruling to have violated Article 71 of the Egyptian Constitution, which prohibits meting out anti-freedom punishments over publishing crimes, adding that it comes in continuation of the policy of encroachment on freedom of opinion and intimidating opinion-makers.”
ANHRI further said, “The pretext of combating terrorism should not be turned into a tool for punishing peaceful opponents and activists at time treacherous terrorist strikes are still underway, without any effective confrontation that could limit their diffusion and obstacle the conditions that lead to its prevalence.”
ANHRI demanded to drop the ruling issued against Ramadan and declare him innocent from the trumped-up charges pressed against him.