UN calls on Egypt to release senior Muslim Brotherhood members

Jihad Al-Haddad
Jihad Al-Haddad, former spokesman for the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt

UN human rights experts have said that two senior Muslim Brotherhood members detained in Egypt since 2013 should be released immediately and compensated, describing their detention as unlawful.

The UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention published its findings last week after examining the cases of former aide to ex-President Mohammed Morsi, Essam Al-Haddad and his son Jihad, chief media spokesperson for the Brotherhood.

A Cairo court overturned life sentences for espionage against the Haddads in 2016. After retrials this year, both were acquitted in September, but they was sentenced to ten years for membership in a banned group. Jihad remains in custody at the maximum security Scorpion Prison.

The Haddad cases “appear to fit the pattern of systematic, widespread and grave violations of fundamental human rights directed against the senior figures of the ousted government of Mohamed Mursi and their real or perceived fellow supporters,” the UN panel said.

Their “deprivation of liberty is arbitrary,” it said, calling on Egyptian authorities to report back in six months on compliance with its findings, and adding: “Their trials should never have taken place.”

The panel noted that the sentencing of Essam was legally problematic because the law that banned membership to the Muslim Brotherhood was issued after his arrest, leaving Egyptian authorities guilty of violating the principle of non-retroactivity.

The panel said that Egyptian authorities had thus far not responded to its inquiries.

There has been a campaign to release Jihad previously on the grounds of failing health following food contamination whilst in detention.

Reports state that between 60,000 and 80,000 political prisoners are being held in Egyptian prisons since the ouster of Morsi in 2013, the majority on political grounds because of their refusal to accept the bloody military coup which ousted the country’s first democratically elected president, Morsi.