Seven Egyptian human rights organizations today voiced concern over the decision to strip independent MP Talaat Sadat of his parliamentary immunity and refer him to a military court for statements he made on a television news talk show last week.
The seven rights groups said Sadat’s speculations about those responsible for assassinating his late uncle, former President Anwar Sadat, fall within the scope of the legal protection of freedom of expression guaranteed by the Egyptian Constitution as well as legally binding international treaties ratified by Egypt, namely the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights.
The organizations also condemned the decision to try Sadat before a military court and reiterated their position that civilians must have the right to a fair trial before civilian courts.
If convicted, Sadat could be sentenced to prison for up to three years. He is charged under two vaguely worded articles of the Penal Code. Article 184 criminalizes insulting “the Parliament,…,the army, courts, authorities or public institutions.” Article 102 bis of the same law punishes “the deliberate circulation of false news, information, data or rumors for the purpose of threatening public security, spreading fear amongst people or causing damage to public interests.”
The human rights groups expressed solidarity with the indicted parliamentarian and called on all supporters of abolishing imprisonment for media charges to follow suite and declare their unconditional support for freedom of expression, regardless of the content of the expressed views. Freedom of expression is a basic requirement for a democratic society and a civil state, the groups added.
Signatories (in alphabetical order):
-Andalus Institute for Tolerance and Nonviolence Studies
-Arab Network for Human Rights Information
-Association for Freedom of Thought and Expression
-Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies
-Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights
-Egyptian Observatory for Justice and Law
-Hisham Mubarak Law Center
-Nadim Center for Victims of Violence and Torture
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