Ten rights groups have banded together to form a coalition that aims to bring justice to those unfairly detained by police forces.
The Voices Behind Bars campaign aspires to “defend hundreds of young people – of diverse political, social, and geographic backgrounds – currently detained for exercising their right of freedom of opinion and self-expression,” according to a statement released by the coalition.
The coalition believes that since the ouster of former president Mohammed Morsi, Egypt has witnessed an “unprecedented crackdown on all peaceful assemblies and demonstrations and the restriction of citizens’ right to peacefully protest”.
The statement cites the 2013 protest law, which the groups claim has been an excuse used by security forces to “bring dozens of arbitrary, unjustifiable charges against young people for exercising their right of expression”.
Additionally, the coalition stated that in the two years since President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi took office, the country has continued to witness a “clear deterioration in the status of civil rights and liberties”.
The coalition believes Al-Sisi has failed to support his claim that those detained deserve justice and release, saying he has taken “no tangible steps to bring it about”.
Many of those apprehended by security forces “incur grave violations of their rights, during the various phases of prosecution, in places of detention due to unjust sentences and fines or because of prolonged, unlawful pre-trial detention”, according to the coalition.
The coalition has set up a website dedicated to publicising information about detainees, which includes the circumstances of their arrest, information about the conditions of their confinement, and an analysis of the laws used to imprison them, as well as the “flaws in their application”.
Prominent detainees on the website include Ahmed Douma, Sanaa Seif, Alaa Abdel Fattah, and Mahienour El Massry.
The 10 rights organisations in the coalition are:
- Association for Freedom of Thought and Expression
- Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies
- Arab Network for Human Rights Information
- Centre for Egyptian Women’s Legal Assistance
- Egyptian Commission for Rights and Freedoms
- Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights
- El-Nadeem Centre for the Rehabilitation of Victims of Violence and Torture
- National Community for Human Rights and Law
- Nazra for Feminist Studies
- The Egyptian Centre for Economic and Social Rights