Aya Hijazi, a dual US-Egyptian citizen who has been in prison for three years in relation to her foundation dedicated to helping street children, was of acquitted all charges by a Cairo court on Sunday. Seven others, including HIzaji’s husband, were found not guilty as well. The eight members of Hijzai’s foundation were arrested in 2014 for allegations of child abuse, human trafficking, kidnapping, sexual exploitation, and torture. Human rights groups have been critical of the arrest, calling it “arbitrary” and unfounded by legitimate evidence, while Joe Stork, Human Rights Watch (HRW) [official website] deputy for the Middle East and North Africa, called the trial “a travesty of justice.” All eight defendants are set to be released [Aljazeera report] in the upcoming days.
Egypt has been under the international spotlight lately for its human rights abuses, particularly, it’s treatment of journalists. In February, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon [official profile] welcomed [JURIST report] the decision by Egyptian authorities to release on bail two Al Jazeera journalists awaiting retrial on terror charges. The men were arrested [JURIST report] in December 2013 along with fellow Al Jazeera journalist and Australian national Peter Greste. In March Greste was released [JURIST report] from the Cairo detention facility and deported, under a law allowing the deportation of foreign nationals to their home countries.