Between 2018 and 2021, approximately 1,764 Egyptian political prisoners were subjected to the “rotation policy,” increasingly used by the Egyptian authorities to circumvent the maximum periods of pre-trial detention, and raises serious due process and fair trial concerns.
The rotation occurs when an individual who is serving a sentence, is in pre-trial detention, has recently completed a sentence, or has recently been ordered released from pre-trial detention, is questioned and detained in relation to a new case. Accordingly, with every new case, the pre-trial detention period begins anew, contributing to a situation in which an individual could be kept in pre-trial detention de facto indefinitely, so long as they are ordered detained in new cases.
At least 1,699 men, 32 women and 33 minors were rotated during their imprisonment over the past four years.
561 of those subjected to rotation were working in private occupations, 178 students, 71 engineers, 62 teachers, 43 lawyers, 28 doctors, 17 journalists, 11 accountants, 10 faculty members, three researchers and three former lawmakers.
High-profile figures were among those subjected to rotation, most notably the former presidential candidate and chairman of the Masr El Kaweya (Strong Egypt) party, Abdel Moneim Aboul Fotouhand, his deputy, Muhammad al-Qassas, who have been rotated since their arrest in 2018, on charges of joining a terrorist group and spreading false news. Ola Al-Qaradawi – the daughter of Sheikh Yusuf Al-Qaradawi – was also among the rotated prisoners who were imprisoned in 2017 on charges of joining and financing a terrorist group. Two years later, she was re-imprisoned on charges of joining and financing a terrorist group from inside her prison cell.
In this regard, we call for putting an end to the “rotation policy” that clearly violates Egyptian citizens’ rights. We also call on the international community to pressure the release of all political prisoners in Egyptian prisons who are still detained under flimsy and fabricated charges.