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EOHR's message to the public opinion on Mother's Day

"Remember the Mothers of the Victims of Recurrent Detention"

20 March 1999

On Mother's Day many people do not know that in Egyptian cities, villages
and hamlets many mothers live in sadness, dying a little every day, because
their sons are behind walls of silence and isolation inside Egyptian
prisons. These mothers are simple Egyptian women. Their sons, the same ones
who received judicial release orders many times before, are the victims of
recurrent detention because the authorities insist on ignoring these orders
and continue to re-detain thousands of youth whom they suspect of having
links with Islamic militant groups. The years go by and their sons remain
in prison, without any hope of seeing the light of the outside world. The
mothers, in spite of their grief, dream of seeing them back. They bring
their complaints to the EOHR appealing to our conscience, and the
organization in turn appeals to the public's  conscience through them.

As it shall be seen in the words of the mothers themselves, more effective
than any other words, the tragedy lies not only in their sons' absence, but
in the fact that their life is in danger due to the lack of medical care
inside prisons. Some of the detainees are afflicted with tuberculosis,
paralysis and other fatal diseases. The mothers sometimes would prefer the
death of their sons to put an end to their suffering. In this respect, the
words of the mother of Tarek Ibrahim Mohamed, in detention since April
1994, speak by themselves

There is no justice in this country, I don't know why they do this to my
son. If they killed him it would be better for him. On my last visit, he
had to be carried by one of his fellow prisoners; he could not stand on his
feet so he had to lie down, and the visit was finished before we could say
anything. It is a sin, really, it is a sinů

The EOHR changes, for the first time, its traditional ways by issuing a
report that it hopes will become a message to human conscience and testify
to the suffering of the mothers of all those held in recurrent detention. 

The report, entitled "Remember the mothers of the victims of recurrent
detention", includes about 40 complaints from mothers of detainees.
However, it must be noted that the total number of complaints received by
the organization amounts to hundreds, as do the appeals sent by the EOHR to
the authorities, to which it received no reply. 

The legal aspects of the phenomenon of recurrent detention, which are
included as an appendix to the report, are examined in the light of legal,
constitutional and international human rights principles. Recurrent
detention may be defined as"The restriction of the freedom of a given
person who did not commit a crime warranting his arrest or trial, by way of
successive administrative orders issued contrary to law provisions or by
circumventing final judicial verdicts acquitting that person of the charges
brought against him or ordering his release."

The last part of the report reiterates a number of practical
recommendations which, if implemented, would put an end to this serious
human rights violation. The first of these recommendations urges that the
Emergency Law be revoked, as it empowers the authorities to conduct random
arrest campaigns, and to maintain persons illegally detained for lengthy
periods after serving penalty terms or after the issuance of final
acquittal or release rulings by the courts.

With this report, the EOHR brings the voices of those mothers to the public
in the hope that their complaints will be heeded. In their name, and that
of thousand others, the EOHR urges the Egyptian authorities to release all
those recurrently detained in breach of court rulings ordering their
release or acquitting them, as a demonstration of respect for legal and
constitutional provisions and the sanctity of judicial rulings. It also
calls on all civil society institutions and organizations, political
parties, intellectuals and all concerned to work together for the
revocation of the Emergency Law, the ending of the practice of recurrent
detention and the implementation of human rights principles in Egypt.

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