By Karim Yousif
The Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies appeals to the president to issue a decree pardoning people imprisoned in connection with the protest law, journalists, and the Egyptians, Americans, Germans, and others convicted in the case involving international non-governmental organizations. These individuals should receive a pardon similar to that issued by the president on September 23, 2015, which led to the release of 100 individuals imprisoned for exercising their constitutional right to peacefully demonstrate, and similar also to that issued by the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) in 2011, when the current president was a member of that council and the director of the Military Intelligence. The 2011 pardon led to the release of many jihadis, some of whom had been tried and convicted and some of whom reportedly joined jihadi groups in Sinai and elsewhere. At the time, Egyptian rights organizations demanded new, fair trials for thousands of people held in connection with terrorism cases, which would have allowed the release of detainees not implicated in acts of violence while ensuring punishment for persons with proven involvement in violence.
While the CIHRS welcomes the most recent presidential pardon, it is not enough. Although it helped relieve the injustice experienced by 100 people, it did not address the dysfunction in the Egyptian justice system that has led to the imprisonment of thousands of people, many of whom have been deprived of their liberty by protracted periods in pretrial detention without being referred to trial. In a television interview in February, the president said that he could not deny that there were innocent youth in prisons and that he would work to release them. The Interior Ministry, moreover, has justified the increasing number of deaths in prison to the massive overcrowding that exceeds the capacities of the prison system.
The CIHRS notes that pardons and amnesties for political prisoners are a defining feature of the transition from one political era to another. Many such prisoners were released following the revolution of July 23, 1952, and Anwar al-Sadat similarly..