he Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights is following the Egyptian government’s efforts to combat COVID-19, the illness caused by the novel coronavirus, including preventive measures like banning assemblies, closing schools and universities, suspending flights, imposing a partial curfew enforced by the police and taking prosecutorial measures to contain rumours and counter commercial fraud and profiteering from the crisis.
EIPR calls on the Egyptian authorities not to exempt detention facilities and prisons from measures taken to reduce crowding and limit the spread of the virus, including police vehicles used to transfer people arrested for violating curfew and closure measures. When enforcing these legal measures, the authorities should always consider their primary objective—protecting lives and minimizing gatherings and density.
Since Prime Ministerial 1Decree 768/2020 was promulgated on 25 March declaring a partial curfew around the country, law enforcement has fined shops and workplaces in violation and arrested citizens breaking the curfew. According to official reports and press coverage, as well as communications from defense attorneys, these enforcement efforts resulted in the arrest of hundreds of people in the first ten days of the curfew. One news outlet, for example, reported the arrest of 2,100 people in Qalyubiya during this period.2 Arrestees are typically moved in crowded transport trucks, according to defense lawyers, 3and are briefly detained before being brought before the prosecution which then releases them.