Incarceration of lawmaker condemned
Publish date: 12 February 2024
Issue Number: 1063
Diary: IBA Legalbrief Africa
An Egyptian court has sentenced prominent politician Ahmed Tantawy, his campaign adviser and 21 of his detained supporters, to a year in prison for alleged offences associated with his presidential challenge to President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi. Human Rights Watch (HRW) said the court also barred Tantawy from running for national elections for five years. Tantawy and his aide, Mohamed Abu al-Dyar, were released on bail pending appeal. HRW said the ruling was entirely based on Tantawy's peaceful political activism and the efforts of Tantawy's campaign to collect support statements before the December 2023 presidential vote, in which Sisi won a third six-year term with 89.6% of the vote. HRW documented the months-long series of unlawful arrests, intimidation and prosecutions against potential candidates and their supporters which preceded the election, all of which effectively prevented any meaningful competition. ‘The Egyptian authorities should immediately throw out the abusive charges against Tantawy and his supporters, which are nothing more than retaliation for his peaceful campaign to challenge President Sisi,’ said HRW researcher Amr Magdi. ‘It isn't just that the authorities are punishing peaceful dissent. By barring Tantawy from running in future elections, the authorities are sending a clear message that no serious challenge to Sisi will be tolerated.’ Tantawy and his supporters can appeal their sentences. The court ordered him and Abu al-Dyar to pay 20 000 Egyptian pounds each (US$648) to avoid detention pending their appeal.