Extracting official papers is a specter that haunts those released from Egyptian prisons


Cairo- Weeks of convalescence passed for Yahya after his release from prison, during which he was not aware of what he would soon face, which makes him a different kind of prisoner.

As soon as he felt that he was able to move around and confront society after 3 years of being imprisoned in custody pending a political case, he found before him a pile of tasks required to extract official papers, all of which depend on a personal identification card, which in turn needs to be renewed after its expiration date.

In front of the Civil Registry employee, Yahya – who is a pseudonym for a former political detainee – was surprised that there was a ban on dealing with him. The employee – who seemed to be used to receiving people like Yahya – asked him if his name was included in the money seizure lists, so maybe this was the reason? Yehia confidently denied, so the employee advised him to go to the party that sends the ban on names to the official authorities, which is the National Security Agency.

It is the heaviest task for Yahya, which will evoke in his conscience the harshest memories of the period that preceded and followed his imprisonment, which is the period of his detention in the National Security headquarters, but he is forced to go, although the response from the National Security officer was pleasant, although he was negative that they “have nothing to do with banning him.” He went on happy that he came out on his feet free and sound.

Yahya turned to a lawyer known for defending the accused in political cases, and was surprised that there were dozens of cases similar to his case that the lawyers were unable to solve, because their hands were “tied” in moving to sue the parties that refused to renew his identity card, because their movement must be authorized by the plaintiff. A power of attorney requires valid identification.

Extracting official papers is a specter that haunts those released from Egyptian prisons
Those released from Egyptian prisons suffer from the crisis of obtaining official papers (French)

The troubling solution

Yahya fell into a vicious circle, so he surrendered, and he was “afraid of going back to prison,” as he admitted in his interview with Al-Jazeera Net, as it was not as courageous as the lawyer and activist Mahienour Al-Masry, who admits in her interview with Al-Jazeera Net that she is “lucky” to have succeeded in recovering her passport after it was withdrawn twice. .

There are others whose stories are similar to the story of Mahienour to the extent of congruence, such as the story of the activist Patrick Zaki, who was surprised in the middle of last year that he was prevented from handing over his passport because he was placed in the custody of a new case, while the details of the stories of others differ, including university professor Muhammad Mohieddin Othman.

Othman suffered after his release from prison in order to obtain the national ID card. For 3 months after his release, he was trying with his employer at Beni Suef University (south) to stamp the necessary papers, but to no avail, until she finally agreed, according to human rights reports.

A scenario similar to that took place the first time to withdraw Mahienour’s passport when she was able to retrieve it after an official notification, but the second time was the most difficult, as the passport official told her, “The ban on handing her the passport is pending in a case in her name,” where she inquired the well-known human rights lawyer through official records to discover that there is Indeed, a case related to another girl with the same name, so I transferred the details to the Passports Department and asked for evidence that she had no criminal record.

Mahienour Al-Masry confirms that her experience with the issue says that it is not related to the existence of similarity in names in some cases or even real cases, but rather to “security intransigence”, and often the frontline parties to prevent “do not have anything to do with the matter”, so the “real decision” In the hands of the security services.

Posting on Facebook and threatening to take legal action against the Passport Authority was a “risk of losing freedom” instead of getting the passport back, in which Mahienour won the bet and received the passport.

The human rights activist stresses that the only solution is to resort to the judiciary, as she would have done by filing a lawsuit in the State Council regarding the administrative authority’s refusal to issue official papers, but most of the released prisoners refrain from these procedures “for fear of returning to prison,” especially since most of them have been evacuated. They are pending other cases.

This procedure recommended by Al-Masry is not only hindered by fear, but also by the lack of official papers required to file a case, as indicated by lawyer and human rights defender Ahmed Helmy.

Helmy explained in his interview with Al-Jazeera Net that the initiation of the procedure requires the presence of identification papers that may be the ones required to be extracted, as all the papers of the released person are kept in prison, and then a ban on dealing in government agencies is imposed on his name, to find himself without papers that he is unable to extract at the same time.

It is noteworthy that such suffering was initially limited to those covered by decisions to seize funds by a specialized committee in this regard, and then the ban was later expanded to include those released.

Helmy describes the problem of the inability to obtain official papers as the “mother of crises” for the released, whether or not decisions have been issued against them to confiscate funds, and the matter has expanded from confiscating funds to prohibiting dealing in general with government agencies and interests, and then began to include all those released To freeze their lives and prevent them from restricting their children, and renewing a car license, for example.

The speaker believed that the only solution to get out of that closed “hellish” circle is for the owner of the problem to go with his lawyer to court, and there he presents his problem to the judge, trying to prove that he is the same person concerned with it, and “the matter is left to the judge’s discretion and conviction.”

Official comments

In turn, the head of the National Council for Human Rights, Mushira Khattab, said to Al-Jazeera Net, commenting on these cases, that the Council’s role is limited to receiving complaints case by case, and intervenes on behalf of the detainees to release them, providing justifications and sending them to the concerned authorities, pointing out that there is another important role in this regard for the Amnesty Committee. Presidential Council that examines cases and takes action for release and subsequent release.

As for the committee, it is in a state of “critical death,” according to committee member Kamal Abu Aita, adding in his brief interview to Al-Jazeera Net, “When you wake up, there may be meaning to the words.”

A glimmer of hope emerged from that darkness when the Public Prosecutor sent a list to the Civil Status Authority that included more than a thousand people to remove their names from the ban on dealing with government agencies.

Dozens of people hurried to extract their identification papers and became sure of the authenticity of the news, so they received their papers, not believing that they finally had something to prove their identities with.

However, there are others who are still stuck and have no choice but to wait for another list to be received from the Attorney General or to resort to the judiciary, perhaps their luck will be with a judge who “understands” the circumstances.


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