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Court finds police order to force activist to spend 12 hours a day in police station ‘abusive’ and ‘without justification’

An administrative court said police officials acted “unilaterally and without justification” in ordering activist Mohamed Adel to spend 12 hours every night — from 6 pm to 6 am — inside a police station as part of his probation, according to the judicial reasoning for a December ruling by an administrative court.

The December 16 ruling — the first of its kind in Egypt — invalidated the order by the Daqahlia security director and the head of the Aga police station to compel Adel to spend 12 hours every night inside his local police station as part of his probation. Instead, the court ruled Adel could spend that daily probationary period inside his home.

The court used strong language in its judicial reasoning — which Mada Masr obtained a copy of — saying that police officials “infringed on the right of the plaintiff” by not allowing him to spend his daily probationary period at his place of residence and used their authority in an “abusive manner” that “deviated from the proper legal course.”

The administrative court ruling in Adel’s case is not binding on other cases but it does lend weight to defense lawyers’ arguments in similar cases against the strict probation measures, according to lawyer Aziza al-Taweel.

Hundreds of people are currently on probation following their conviction and completion of prison sentences. After their release from prison, many are being forced to spend half the day inside a police station instead of their home, a practice that has been widely condemned by human rights groups as an arbitrary and excessive form of punishment.

Adel’s probation was particularly difficult, as he had to travel three hours every day from his home in Cairo to turn himself in to the Aga police station by 6 pm. If he showed up a minute late, he would face charges of probation violation and a sentence of one year in prison, according to Taweel.

“Probation is cruel, but at least by spending it at home people can still work and be with their families,” Taweel said.

Adel — a co-founder of the April 6 Youth Movement — was sentenced in December 2013, along with fellow April 6 co-founder Ahmed Maher and activist Ahmed Douma, to three years in prison, an additional three years of probation, and levied a fine of LE50,000 on charges of violating Egypt’s protest law. Adel was released in January 2017, and on the orders of the Aga police station had to turn himself in to the police station every day at 6 pm. On June 9, 2018, Adel was re-arrested from the police station and charged with spreading false news on social media, inciting against the state and disturbing the peace. He remains in remand detention.

After serving a five-year prison sentence, software developer and activist Alaa Abdel Fattah was forced to spend every night in Dokki Police Station as part of his five-year probationary sentence, until his re-arrest and imprisonment in September. Meanwhile, photojournalist Mahmoud Abu Zeid, known as Shawkan, continues to spend 12 hours every day inside a police station since his release from prison in March 2019 after spending over five years behind bars. As a result of the harsh probationary measures, the Committee to Protect Journalists maintains Shawkan’s listing as imprisoned.

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