The International Press Institute (IPI), a global network of editors, media executives and leading journalists for press freedom, has welcomed the intervention of the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights in the case of detained Egyptian journalist Mohamad Al-Yammani.
A statement published on the website of the ACHPR said that the Commission’s Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression and Access to Information in Africa, Commissioner Lawrence Mute, had sent a letter of appeal to Egyptian President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi, seeking clarifications about information received by the Commission about the “arrest and prolonged pre-trial detention” of Mohamad Al-Yammani.
The Special Rapporteur said in the letter that if the information received by the Commission is found to be true then by detaining Al-Yammani Egypt has violated Articles 1, 6, 9 and 25 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights.
The African Charter on Human and People’s Rights was adopted in Nairobi in 1981 and entered into force in 1986. According to Article 1 of the Charter, all Member States shall recognize the Rights, duties and freedoms enshrined in the Charter, Article 6 protects against arbitrary arrest and detention, Article 9 protects the right to receive information and the right to express and disseminate opinion, and Article 25 describes the duties of the Member States to promote Human Rights.
IPI had raised the issue of Al-Yammani’s detention with the Special Rapporteur earlier this month and urged him to take immediate action to secure the release of the journalist.
“We welcome this prompt action by the Special Rapporteur seeking clarification from Egypt in the case of Mohamad Al-Yammani and reminding the government that it may be in violation of the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights”, IPI Director of Advocacy Ravi R. Prasad said. “Egypt’s arbitrary detention of journalists is a clear violation of international human rights law.”
Al-Yammani, a freelance journalist, disappeared in police custody after his arrest on December 8 last year. His family has written to the attorney general and the minister of Internal Affairs but has received no reply so far.
The journalist was arrested twice earlier, in 2014 and in 2017, on charges of spreading false information and joining a terrorist organization, accusations Egypt commonly levels against critical journalists. The first time he spent more than two years in prison and was released by the court pending further investigation. After the second arrest in 2017, he disappeared in custody only to be brought to court after 40 days. He was released the same year by the office of the public prosecutor after paying a fine.
In the past, the ACHPR has also raised with Cairo the case of IPI Member and Al Jazeera journalist Mohamoud Hussein, who has been in prison for nearly 1,200 days now.