[JURIST] Egypt’s Court of Cassation [official website, in Arabic] upheld convictions and three-year prison sentences of three activists on Monday for violating the country’s protest laws. Ahmed Maher, Ahmed Douma and Mohammed Adel were arrested [AP report] for breaking a law that bans political gatherings of more than 10 people without prior government permission. As the Court of Cassation is Egypt’s highest appeals court, the convicted men have no other legal redress available to them. Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] has criticized the law [press release] since its drafting, claiming that it goes “well beyond the limitations permitted under international law” for the right to peacefully assemble. The UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights [official website] also condemned the law [UN report], its spokesperson stating that “no one should be criminalized or subjected to any threats or acts of violence, harassment or persecution for addressing human rights issues through peaceful protests.” Thousands have been arrested [Daily News Egypt report] under this law, including many members and supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood.
Violations of protestors’ rights have been internationally denounced in recent months. Last week HRW criticized [JURIST report] the government of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) for using “unlawful and excessive force” against protesters in the capital of Kinshasa. In October HRW also criticized the Thai government [JURIST report] for failing to take action to bring police and military personnel to justice for their responsibility in the deaths of protestors in Tak Bai in 2004. In September Hong Kong police arrested [JURIST report] dozens of nonviolent pro-democracy protestors outside a government compound. In May HRW released a report [JURIST report] announcing that Venezuelan security forces have abused and unlawfully detained protesters.