An Egyptian woman hugs a youth who was released from Cairo's Tora prison on November 18, 2016 - AFP An Egyptian woman hugs a youth who was released from Cairo's Tora prison on November 18, 2016 - AFP

477 prisoners released, 4th pardon list due soon

Sun, Jan. 28, 2018
CAIRO – 28 January 2018: A pardon issued by President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi on Sunday gave 477 Egyptian prisoners their freedom. The issuing of the pardons coincided with Police Day and the anniversary of the January Revolution.

The prisons service resumed holding committees to examine the cases of remaining prisoners and to determine those who deserve a pardon in order to be released before finishing their prison sentences according to presidential decree no. 18/2018.

The presidential pardon committee also began examining the cases of those entitled to conditional release, which resulted in the release of an additional 142 prisoners.

On Saturday, Parliamentarian Tarek al-Khouly, a member of the Egyptian Presidential Pardon committee announced that an international conference would be held with foreign reporters to review the committee’s efforts.

Khouly stated that he contacted the head of the State Information Service (SIS) Diaa Rashwan, to organize a meeting with reporters for Western newspapers and media outlets at the headquarters of the SIS.

A full report of the committee’s achievements since it was formed in 2016, will be presented during the meeting, Khouly added.

Sisi orders forming a presidential pardon committee
In October 2016, President Sisi announced the forming of a presidential pardon committee, headed by political thinker Osama al-Ghazaly Harb, for pardoning detainees with charges pending further investigation.

In November 2016, Sisi declared the first presidential pardon list, pardoning 82 detainees including TV presenter and religious thinker Islam al-Behery, who was on a charge of “contempt of Islam.”

A second pardon list was declared last March, pardoning 203 detainees. The list included five journalists, according to Masrawy news outlet.

In June, Sisi announced the pardoning of 502 detainees, including the 175 detainees who represented the third pardon list.

On the October 6 Victory Anniversary, 244 Egyptian prisoners regained their freedom after receiving a pardon by a presidential decree.

Fourth pardon list
The date of the conference will be announced, following a meeting of the committee on Monday with a number of ministers and members of the parliament, Khouly added.
Following Sisi’s permission at the World Youth Conference (WYF), the committee announced preparing the fourth pardon list, according to the law.

On November 11, Khouly said that they have been working fast to finish the fourth list, in order to prove to the whole world that the outcome of the previously held youth conferences is being executed.

Khouly stated that Sisi confirmed that those who are not proven to be members of terrorist organizations or committing acts that contradict constitutional presidential pardon standards would be on the list.

Concerning the pardoned detainees of the earlier three lists, Khouly said that the committee will contact ministries and specialized foundations to execute plans qualifying them to regain their freedom.

MP Mohammed al-Ghoul, deputy of Parliament's Human Rights Committee, said that the committee receives pardon petitions from detainees’ families, and that they plan to send them after revision to the presidential committee.

Brotherhood members’ repentance acknowledgments
Hundreds of elements of the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood group inside prisons have presented requests for pardon after they denounced the Brotherhood and signed revision documents known as ‘repentance acknowledgments’, according to media reports last November.

Presidential advisor for religious affairs Osama al-Azhari and a number of preachers also held preaching sessions with Islamists, most of whom were Brotherhood members, hoping they would revise their ideas.

These measures seemed to have produced fruit, as there is information that hundreds of Brotherhood elements have already signed "repentance acknowledgements", where they denounced the Brotherhood. They also presented applications to the committee that was formed by the presidency last year to study the files pertaining to youth prisoners. The files are the first step for having a pardon issued, according to committee member MP Tarek al-Kholy’s statements to local media outlets.

“A number of the Brotherhood cadres announced repentance after expressing their opposition to the approach adopted by the Brotherhood lately and in rejection of violence,” local media reported earlier in 2016.

Prisons Organization Law
In December, the Egyptian cabinet approved a bill to amend some provisions of law No. 3396 of 1956 concerning the organization of prisons.

The parliament is set to continue the discussion of this law’s amendments with the aim of passing it as soon as possible.

This bill makes prisoners eligible for police pardon after serving half their sentence, rather than the current two-thirds of a sentence. The pardon aims to urge the prisoner to pursue proper behavior within the prison and to respond to rehabilitation programs in order to enable him to return to normal life as a good member of society.
The prisoners will receive a police pardon if their release does not pose a threat to public security.

Article 155 of the Egyptian constitution gives the president the power to pardon or commute the sentence of prisoners following consultations with the cabinet; on the condition that their offences do not include violence or attacks on public or security properties. The pardon, usually taking place during official and religious holidays, entails:

1. Ending any freedom-restricting penalties.
2. Canceling fine penalties, if applicable.
3. Pardoning the prisoner from police surveillance.
4. The legal effects of the sentence continue to be shown in the criminal record of the released prisoners.

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