Preventative detention in Egypt… A procedure or a punishmentThe issue of “preventative detention in Egypt” became a research topic of a great importance as it threatens individuals’ freedom, especially after abusing this procedure by the Egyptian justice after July 30th, 2013 which turned it into some sort of a punishment. Today, the Egyptian prisons are full of those who were held in custody for investigations or prosecutions without sentences. The period of preventive detention may last for years before the prisoner would be presented to an objective judge despite that the maximum period of detention allowed by the law to a non-convicted person is 24 months as we will explain later. Human rights reports indicated that more than a thousand cases of precautionary detainees had exceeded the maximum period of detention and this is only in four governorates including the journalist and researcher Hichem Jaafar, who exceeded two years in preventive detention without being referred, despite the fact that he was remanded four times after the legal period of detention was over and after two years of imprisonment. Mr. Hichem Jaafar was joined by the researcher Ismail al-Iskandarani whose case was referred to the Military Prosecution after two years of preventative detention for lack of jurisdiction. Reports and statistics issued by Egyptian and international human rights organizations indicated that the number of preventive detention cases reached an unprecedented level in Egypt’s history. “Preventative Detention” is a legal action taken by the investigating authority or the competent court to ensure that the accused is held in a safe place until the proceedings and the charges against him are settled on the one hand, and to ensure that the evidences of the case would not be tampered with, or that the witnesses to the incident would be affected, or that the society would not be harmed. In recent practices, preventive detention was transformed from a precautionary measure to a political punishment, reflecting the failure of the security institutions to build cases that deserve consideration by an objective judge. On the other hand, it reflects the violation of the law without any deterrent. Preventive detention is considered as one of the most serious legal procedures since it affects the personal freedom of the individual. Thus, the jurisprudence referred to it as the most obnoxious legal procedure as it is a procedure that tends to prioritize the presumption of conviction over innocence, and the principles state that the accused is innocent until proven guilty. Based on the above, through this paper we will endeavor to study the preventive detention in order to answer the following questions:
- What is the definition of preventive detention?
- What are its most important aspects?
- Is it a precautionary measure or a punishment?
- What alternatives have the law guaranteed to limit it?
- How was it dealt with in international charters?
- What are the most important recommendations of the international texts to reduce it and minimize its use at the earliest stages when considering cases?
- Is there a need to address other alternatives?