tober 28, 2017
Detained journalist Hisham Gaafar’s family said Egyptian authorities renewed detention of Gaafar, although he had been in custody for longer than the maximum period of pre-trial detention (since October 20, 2017). The maximum period of legal pre-trial detention in accordance with Article 143 of the Code of Criminal Procedure is two years. This used to be just six months, but was extended to two full years, making it – in itself – a punishment used regularly against those who stand for democracy and freedom of opinion like Hisham Gaafar.
The family added that by extending Gaafar’s detention, judge Shaaban Al-Shami committed a blatant crime and violated Gaafar’s rights. The family holds Egyptian Attorney General and the State Security Prosecutor responsible for failing to release Gaafar until now. “The Interior Minister and his assistant for Prisons Service are also directly responsible.”
In a statement, Gaafar’s family further said in failing to apply the law, authorities do not only give justification for terrorism, but indeed are themselves terrorists who violate the law. “The distinction between terrorism and legality is rejection or respect of the law. We urge the international committee to help protect journalists, through a plea and complaint to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights in Geneva and to the United Nations’ Secretary-General regarding Gaafar’s detention by Egyptian authorities outside the law.”
Gaafar’s family called on the UN Committee Against Torture to investigate the violations and systematic methods of torture of political detainees in Aqrab Prison, including Hisham Gaafar. “Untreated sewage was discharged raw into political prisoners’ cells, who are also deprived of sleep due to persistent mosquito attacks. They do not see the sun for months. In the rare few visits they are allowed, they cannot hug or touch their loved ones, who are kept away behind glass barriers.”
In its statement, Gaafar’s family urged the judiciary not to cover up or participate in the crime of kidnapping by extending imprisonment contrary to the law. “We received information that Hisham Gaafar has started a hunger strike, which he intends to continue until he is released. We hold Egyptian authorities full responsibility for the deterioration of his health, which is already weak because of violations and abuses Gaafar and his fellow detainees are being subjected to daily.