Egyptian court sentences 23 protesters to prison

An Egyptian court on Oct. 26 sentenced 23 activists to three years in prison for protesting without a permit, an act that violates a law enacted in November 2013. The men were arrested in June while protesting the restrictive protest law that requires demonstrators to obtain permission from authorities one week in advance of gathering in public, grants the interior ministry the right to reject requests and imposes severe fines for violations. In addition to violating the protest law, the men were also convicted of blocking off a road during the demonstration, damaging public property and using violence "with the aim of terrorizing citizens." Rights groups have constantly voiced concern over the law, suggesting that it is being used to scare citizens into not opposing the government. In October of last year Human Rights Watch condemned the law, saying that it falls short of the obligation to respect freedom of assembly. It also expressed concern over the scope of the law's application, vague language, and its broad restrictions and discretionary powers.

From Jurist, Oct. 26. Used with permission.