Press Release

October 23 , 1997

Appeal for the immediate release of Kamal Khalil

CHRLA appeals to the Egyptian authorities to take immediate steps to release Kamal Khalil, detained since the morning of 30 August 1997. It is expected that Khalil's detention order will be renewed on 28 October.

Kamal KhalilKhalil's detention is part of a chain of arrests over the past six months aimed at reining in political activists opposed to the new law liberalizing agricultural rents (Law no. 96/1992). The authorities have accused the detainees of inciting tenant farmers to protest against the law, claiming that they possess papers and documents to prove this.

The charges against Khalil, and the 10 others arrested between April and September of this year, are based on articles of the Penal Code that are contrary to the rights of freedom of opinion and expression guaranteed by the Egyptian Constitution and international covenants ratified by the Egyptian government. CHRLA maintains that there are no legal justifications for the continued detention of Khalil, especially in view of the fact that the investigation authorities recently released all other detainees facing the same charges as Khalil. CHRLA declares its solidarity with Kamal Khalil who is being held as a prisoner of conscience.

CHRLA calls on all civil institutions, rights organizations, and democratic forces to pressure the Egyptian authorities to:

1. Immediately release Kamal Khalil;

2. Drop all charges and cases against those who have done nothing except peacefully express their opposition to Law 96/92. They include university professor, Dr al-Ahwani; journalist, Hamdeen Sabahy; artist, Ezz al-Din Naguib; Secretary of the Labor Party Farmers' Committee Muhsen Hashem, and engineer, Kamal Khalil;

3. Review all articles of the Penal Code and other legislation which criminalizes the freedom of opinion and peaceful political activities;

4. Limit the powers of the investigation authorities to detain people for questioning in those cases where it is clear that preventive detention is being used as a punishment for political opponents who are peacefully expressing their opinions.

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