NCHR requests parliament consider amendments to Protest Law
Egypt's National Council for Human Rights.

CAIRO: The National Council for Human Rights (NCHR) will communicate with the Human Rights committee in the parliament to discuss various legislation, including the 2013 Protest Law, NCHR member Hafez Abu Saeda told Youm7 Monday.

In his statements, Abu Saeda said that the NCHR will demand amendments to the controversial law in order to comply with freedoms stipulated in the constitution, and to reduce punishments imposed.

The NCHR will request the parliament to consider legislations related to rights and freedoms, including that regarding the work of NGOs in Egypt and anti-torture draft law.

The Protest law, in effect since Nov. 25, 2013, requires police approval before launching a protest. Accordingly, hundreds of activists and students are languishing in prison for breaching the law by setting unlicensed gatherings.

Reconsidering the law has been repeatedly demanded by politicians and rights activists since it has entered into force.

Over the past week, dozens were rounded up, seemingly randomly, from cafes and amid house raids ahead of protests April 25 denouncing the transfer of Egypt’s control on two Red Sea islands to Saudi Arabia.

On Monday, anti-government protests were hindered by security forces and dozens were reportedly detained, while demonstrators supporting Sisi’s decision of ceding sovereignty of the islands were seen chanting and waving Saudi flags in several spots in different governorates.

In mid-April, the NCHR published a list of prisoners to demand their release from President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi, including patients, elderly, students and 25 jailed journalists, according to Youm7.

Among the journalists is Mahmoud Abu Zeid, also known as Shawkan, who has exceeded two years in pre-trial detention, and now completed 1000 days in prison after he was arrested in 2013 while covering the dispersal of the pro-Brotherhood sit-ins in Cairo.

Shawkan’s trial just kicked off in February, along with over 700 co-defendants, being accused of charges including: murder, weapon possession and affiliations with an outlawed organization.

The NCHR has stated that it supports the release of those who are proven not to have participated in violence actions.

Sisi has pardoned several batches of activists and detainees, some of them arrested over unlicensed protesting.

In September 2015, some 100 were pardoned per a presidential decree including: Journalists Mohamed Fahmy and Baher Mohamed, who were sentenced to three yrs in prison in the case known as “Mariott Cell,” and activists Sana Seif and Yara Sallam  who were arrested in an anti-Protest Law assembly outside Ittihadiya Palace in November 2013, and were sentenced to two years.

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