By: Tooni Akanni and Masa Amir
On 21 June 2014, 23 protesters including, seven women human rights defenders (WHRDs), were arrested in Cairo, Egypt for conducting a peaceful demonstration against the country’s draconian Protest and Public Assembly Law, which restricts the right to protest.
The 23 detainees include Yara Sallam, recipient of the Pan-African Human Rights Defenders Network’s award in 2013 and transitional justice officer at the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR). The demonstration called for the repeal of the Protest and Public Assembly Law (Law no 107 of 2013 on the Right to Public Meetings, Processions and Peaceful Demonstrations), issued by former President Adly Mansour in November 2013 to regulate public assembly, and the release of all those detained on background of the controversial legislation and was forcibly dispersed by security forces aided by men in civilian dress.
Four days after the arrest of the detainees, the public prosecution issued an indictment order, referring the 7 WHRDs, and the rest of the detainees, to trial on charges of participating in a demonstration without authorization which endangered public order and security; deliberate destruction of public and private property; displaying force with the aim of terrorizing passersby and endangering their lives; and taking part in a gathering of more than five people with the aim of threatening “public peace” and committing crimes.