Urgent Interventions

Egypt: arbitrary pre-trial detention of 15 members of the Muslim Brotherhood

Case EGY 270103
Arbitrary detention / Freedoms of assembly and opinion

The International Secretariat of OMCT requests your URGENT intervention in the following situation in Egypt.

Brief description of the situation

The International Secretariat of OMCT has been informed by the Egyptian Organisation of Human Rights (EOHR), a member of the OMCT network, of the arbitrary pre-trial detention of 15 members of the “Muslim Brotherhood” in Egypt.

According to the information received, 14 members of the banned "Muslim Brotherhood" group, in addition to one fugitive, were arrested at 7:00 p.m on Wednesday, January 1st, 2003 by the State Security Investigation (SSI). They were referred to the state security prosecution at 5:00 p.m. the next day, at which time it was ordered that they be held for 15 days of pre-trial detention. Their detention was renewed on 14th January 2003 for a further 15 days, meaning that they should be released on January 29th, 2003. There are fears that their pre-trial detention may again be renewed for another period. Since the end of 2001, some 281 persons have been remanded in pre-trial detention, typically for a period of up to six months, while only some of this number are ever tried or given sentences (an estimated 83 of 281 persons received sentences ranging between 3 months and 6 years).

The 15 defendants were charged with affiliation with the banned Muslim Brotherhood, promoting propaganda in relation with the imminent war on Iraq and the economic situation inside Egypt. It is worth noting that the charges were denied by the defendants’ attorney. The names of the persons are as follows:

1- Ahmed Mahmoud Shosha – Engineer; 2- Ayman Ahmed Abd El Ghani – Engineer; 3- Tarek Mohamed Abd El Gawad- Accountant; 4- Dr. Mohamed El Qadi - Professor in Literature; 5- Abd El Moneim; 6- Abdel Allah Mohamed Ibrahim; 7- Amin Abd El Hamid; 8- Mohamed Ali Negm; 9- Mohamed Saqr; 10- Abdel Megeed Mashali; 11-Tarek Hegi; 12- Ahmed Mahmoud Ibrahim; 13- Ramadan El Deeb; 14- Mostafa Ismail; 15- Essam Mohamed Bayoumi (the fugitive).

According to the information received, the Egyptian authorities have frequently used pre-trial detention as a means of exerting political pressure on the Muslim Brotherhood, with such defendants usually being detained for periods of up to six months without recourse to due process and in violation of their rights under the Egyptian Constitution and International laws and standards. Furthermore, the practice often coincides with certain events; i.e. public, municipal, syndicates' elections or elections at the universities.

Our sources have expressed their concern that the excessive use of pre-trial detention by the prosecution seems to be a sort of punishment, particularly as it was revealed that most of the arrested are usually released at a later date without having been tried. Those who are referred to trial are presented before exceptional courts by virtue of Egypt’s Emergency Law. The authorities justify the referral to exceptional courts as a reaction to the armed violence such groups are alleged to be engaged in, but the Muslim Brotherhood defendants were not charged with committing violent acts. The Emergency Law is therefore reportedly being used inappropriately, in breach of rights guaranteed by the Egyptian Constitution and International human rights laws and standards.

The International Secretariat of OMCT is gravely concerned by the use of arbitrary pre-trial detention, which constitutes a violation of these persons’ rights under the Egyptian Constitution and International human rights laws. OMCT therefore calls on the Egyptian authorities to order the immediate and unconditional release of the afore-mentioned persons and the cessation of the use of the provisions of Emergency Law and arbitrary pre-trial detention as a means of harassing any group, in violation of their fundamental rights. Furthermore, OMCT calls on the authorities to ensure that the Emergency Law is not extended for a further three years when it expires in May 2003.

Further information

Concerning the Emergency Law, it is worth noting that EOHR has launched a campaign aimed at ending the enforcement of the Emergency Law in Egypt. Under the Emergency Law No 162 of 1958 (‘the Emergency Law’), the executive authority has wide powers to suspend many civil and political freedoms and rights granted by the Constitution and legislative safeguards in the Criminal Procedures Code. The Emergency Law is due to expire in May 2003. At that time, a state of emergency will have been in force in Egypt for 22 consecutive years. It is predicted that the emergency status could be extended for another three-year period.

The Emergency Law has been used to restrict various freedoms such as the freedom of assembly, movement, residence and opinion over the last two decades. Moreover, wide powers of arrest, detention, and search and seizure have resulted in widespread violations of civil and political rights. Power has also been given to the military ruler to issue decrees that have the force of law, thus avoiding parliamentary supervision. Such decrees have been used against human rights defenders (for example, Military Order No.4 of 1992).

According to our sources, the most dangerous consequence of the Emergency Law is its usurpation of the role of the Egyptian judicial system. Parallel exceptional courts have been created to hear criminal cases concerning threats to State security and alleged violations of military decrees. Certain civil and political trial protections do not apply in exceptional jurisdictions. Additionally, there can be no appeal for verdicts handed down by such courts. However, the President has wide powers with respect to ratification of verdicts and is even capable of ordering a retrial.

The continuous enforcement of Emergency Law is no longer justifiable in Egypt. The political or religious violence which was the pretext of the extension of the state of emergency during the 1980s and 1990s reportedly no longer exists.

Action requested

Please write to the authorities in Egypt urging them to:

i. order the immediate and unconditional release of the afore-mentioned 15 members of the Muslim Brotherhood;
ii. ensure that the Emergency Law is not extended when it expires in May 2003;
iii. guarantee the respect of human rights and the fundamental freedoms throughout the country in accordance with international human rights standards.


· H.E. President Mohammad Hosni Mubarak, Abedine Palace, Cairo, Egypt, Fax: 202 390 199 98, Email :
· H.E. General Habib Ibrahim El Adly, Minister of the Interior, Al – Sheik Rihan Street, Bab al-Louk, Cairo, Egypt, Fax: 202 579 2031
· Her Excellency Mrs Naéla Gabr, Ambassador of Egypt to the United Nations in Geneva, Permanent Mission to the United Nations in Geneva, Avenue Blanc 49, 1202 Geneva, Switzerland, fax: + 41 22 738 44 15, e-mail:

Please also write to the embassies of Egypt in your respective country.

Geneva, January 27th, 2003

Kindly inform us of any action undertaken quoting the code of this appeal in your reply.