Coptic activist Rami Kamil has had his detention extended after his court hearing was postponed for a second time.
Mr Kamil was supposed to appear before the Supreme State Security Prosecution (SSSP) on 19 January. However, on the day of the hearing, and after waiting for several hours, his lawyers were informed that the Ministry of Interior, which is responsible for transferring detainees from Torra prison to the SSSP in the Fifth District, was unable to bring Mr Kamil to the hearing.
Mr Kamil was arrested when police raided his house in Cairo during the early hours of 23 November 2019, and is facing terrorism-related charges. However, it is widely believed that he is being targeted because of his human rights work documenting violations of the right to freedom of religion or belief
This is not the first time the Ministry of Interior has failed to bring Mr Kamil to a hearing, and CSW’s sources believe this may be a deliberate attempt to prolong the process and increase psychological pressure on the defendant and his lawyers.
There have been numerous procedural irregularities in this case. In January, Mr Kamil’s detention was extended by a further 15 days after he was interrogated by prosecutors in prison. Mr Kamil’s lawyers were verbally and informally notified that his detention had been extended for the second time, despite the fact he has still not been formally charged or tried. It remains unclear when the next hearing will take place.
Furthermore, the SSSP continues to prevent Mr Kamil’s lawyers from having full access to the documents related to his case. Their request for Mr Kamil’s release remains unanswered by the authorities.
CSW’s Chief Executive Mervyn Thomas said: “Mr Kamil’s detention increasingly appears to be an effort to punish him for his work as a human rights defender. We call for his immediate and unconditional release, and for due process to be observed. Mr Kamil’s lawyers must be permitted to access every document and testimony related to this case in order to mount an appropriate defence. The Egyptian government must ensure that it upholds its constitutional obligation under article 53 to ensure equality before the law without discrimination.”