Guernica 37
Guernica 37

Statement: Petition of Complaint filed with UN Special Procedures Branch on behalf of Dr. Mohamed Morsi

Having been detained since 29 June 2013, in conditions that violate any and all appropriate standards, and in circumstances that render his detention arbitrary, and therefore unlawful, a Petition of Complaint has now been filed with the Special Procedures Branch of the United Nations by Guernica 37 International Justice Chambers, on behalf of Dr. Mohamed Morsi, the former President of Egypt, with a request that it investigates the situation and reports accordingly.

Dr. Mohamed Morsi the first democratically elected President of Egypt was removed from power following a military coup d’état.

Thereafter, on 29 June 2013, he was arrested and detained on the basis of 5 purported criminal charges, namely:

  • Membership and Leadership of the Muslim Brotherhood;
  • Disclosing State Secrets;
  • Escape from Wadi Al-Natroun prison during the revolution of 25 January 2011;
  • Demonstration and use of force and the arrest of individuals outside the rule of law in the ‘Ittihadya Palace Case’; and
  • Insulting the Judiciary.

Dr. Morsi has now been held for over four years.

For the initial 5 months, he was held incommunicado, his place of detention only being disclosed when he was initially brought for trial on 4 November 2013.

This flagrant breach of his fair trial, and due process rights, was replicated throughout the trial process, leading to his conviction, wherein, Dr. Morsi was:

  • Held in an ‘opaque cage’ and thereby infringing of the right to the presumption of innocence;
  • Prevented from hearing the evidence presented against him, on account of the sound in the aforementioned ‘cage’ being controlled by the presiding Judge;
  • Prevented from having private consultation with his legal Counsel;
  • Only allowed minimal visits;
  • Prevented from seeing copies of any Prosecution evidence;
  • Prevented from providing his Counsel with any documents in furtherance of his defence; and
  • Given the restrictions placed on legal consultation Dr. Morsi was prevented from putting his defence and prevented from taking an active part in the process.

The derogation from international standards does not end with the trial process itself however; Dr. Morsi is forced to endure standards of detention that have no place in any State, much less one that purports to respect the principles of democracy and fairness.

Over the past four years of detention Dr. Morsi has:

  • Been held in solitary confinement, and for the main part, incommunicado; conditions that can, and as has been previously held the UN Special Procedures Branch, do, amount to torture and/or inhuman and degrading treatment;
  • Forced to eat spoiled food, or food otherwise than is fit for human consumption; and
  • Denied medicine and medical treatment for health conditions, including diabetes, that has resulted in those conditions becoming exacerbated, to the extent that he as on more than one occasion fell into a diabetic coma, and further, is losing his sight in one eye. In short, there is a clear and demonstrable risk to life as a direct result of his conditions of detention.

There is information to suggest that he has been assessed by a doctor, however, this is not confirmed.  Further, he has not been assessed by an independent doctor, and therefore any diagnosis made is unlikely to be credible given that he has been certified as not requiring medical attention previously, despite his documented serious health conditions.

Regardless of whether he has been assessed or otherwise, the position remains criticial.

Egypt is a State party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and is therefore bound by its Articles.

Consequently, in holding Dr. Morsi in such conditions, and forcing deliberate unfair trial practices upon him, Egypt is intentionally, and wilfully, acting outside of international law; in doing so, it is therefore highlighting that it no longer has any respect for the Rule of Law, particularly for those it deems to be in opposition to the ruling elite.

All individuals, including the former President, when charged with any criminal offence, or when detained in custody, deserve to be treated with the same impartiality.

All such individuals, regardless of the country in question, must have their fair trial rights protected and upheld, and further, must be held in conditions that are suitable.

These are obligations from which there can be no derogation, and yet, in the case of Dr. Morsi, and hundreds if not thousands of others that have come before the Egyptian Criminal Justice System, Egypt is content to ignore its obligations under national, and international law, and operate a position of conviction at all costs.

The Petition submitted on behalf of Dr. Morsi requests that an immediate investigation be undertake.

In the meantime, the Egyptian Government is called upon to:

  1. Grant Dr. Morsi those fair trial rights to which he is entitled under domestic and international law;
  2. Guarantee an independent and impartial tribunal to hear the cases against Dr. Morsi;
  3. Allow Dr. Morsi to access appropriate medical care for his documented conditions; and
  4. End the practice of solitary and incommunicado detention.

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