Egypt: Summonses, arrest warrants, and related police or national security documents, including appearance, security features, issuance procedures, and samples; court decisions and investigation reports from the Public Prosecution Office, including appearance, security features, issuance procedures, and samples (2018–April 2021) [EGY200434.E]

Research Directorate, Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada

1. Issuance Procedures for Documents Related to a Criminal Investigation

Article 54 of the Constitution of the Arab Republic of Egypt provides the following:

Personal freedom is a natural right, shall be protected and may not be infringed upon. Except for the case of being caught in flagrante delicto, it is not permissible to arrest, search, detain, or restrict the freedom of anyone in any way except by virtue of a reasoned judicial order that was required in the context of an investigation.

Every person whose freedom is restricted shall be immediately notified of the reasons therefore; shall be informed of his/her rights in writing; shall be immediately enabled to contact his/her relatives and lawyer; and shall be brought before the investigation authority within twenty four hours as of the time of restricting his/her freedom.

… (Egypt 2014)

Other sources similarly state that [except for those arrested in the process of committing a crime (US 11 Mar. 2020, 10)], arrests require a ["court-issued" (US 11 Mar. 2020, 10)] warrant issued in accordance with the penal or military codes (US 11 Mar. 2020, 10; Australia 17 June 2019, para. 4.16). A November 2019 Amnesty International report on abuses by state prosecutors notes that under the Code of Criminal Procedures, prosecutors "can issue binding judicial decisions such as arrest warrants, summons for question, and search and seizure warrants" (Amnesty International 27 Nov. 2019, 16-17). However, the US Department of State's Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2019 notes that "there were numerous reports of arrests without such a warrant" (US 11 Mar. 2020, 10). English copies of the Code of Criminal Procedures and the military code could not be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate within the time constraints of this Response.

The information in the following list was provided by the Egyptian Front for Human Rights (EFHR) [1] in an interview with the Research Directorate:

The procedures for issuing documents related to a criminal investigation are as follows:

  1. An "investigation record" is created. Authorities receive information about a crime and write an investigation report. English and French translations of a sample investigation record, provided by the EFHR, are attached to this Response (Attachment 1).
  2. The investigation report is sent to the prosecutor and a "prosecution arrest record" is created.
  3. The prosecutor issues an arrest warrant for an individual and "defines the place of arrest." Authorities then go to that place, make the arrest, and prepare the "arrest record." English and French translations of a sample arrest record, provided by the EFHR, are attached to this Response (Attachment 2).
  4. The prosecution verifies the arrest and documents that they have received the arrest record.
  5. An [translation] "[i]nvestigation [r]eport," described by the EFHR as a "prosecution interrogation document," is prepared and signed by the prosecutor. English and French translations of a sample investigation report, provided by the EFHR, are attached to this response (Attachment 3). The prosecutor can extend the detention up to ten times using an [translation] "Order to Extend Precautionary Detention" form, described by the EFHR as a "renewal of detention form." English and French translations of a sample Order to Extend Precautionary Detention form, provided by the EFHR, are attached to this Response (Attachment 4).
  6. A [translation] "[f]orensics [r]eport," described by the EFHR as a "forensic record," is prepared. English and French translations of a sample forensics report, provided by the EFHR, are attached to this Response (Attachment 5). English and French translations of a sample [translation] "[f]orensics [m]emo," described by the EFHR as a memo from the prosecution to forensics, provided by the EFHR, are also attached to this Response (Attachment 6).
  7. A [translation] "Document Access Report," described by the EFHR as an "exhibits" file, is prepared. English and French translations of a sample Document Access Report, provided by the EFHR, are attached to this Response (Attachment 7).
  8. Officers are questioned by the prosecutor. English and French translations of a sample [translation] "[i]nvestigation [r]eport," described by the EFHR as a report of the "officers' interrogation by [the] prosecutor," provided by the EFHR, are attached to this Response (Attachment 8).
  9. "Referral order."
  10. A trial is held. English and French translations of a sample [translation] "[h]earing [r]eport," described by the EFHR as "trial sessions," provided by the EFHR, are attached to this Response (Attachment 9).
  11. The sentence is delivered. English and French translations of a sample [translation] "[r]uling," described by the EFHR as a "sentence" file, provided by the EFHR, are attached to this Response (Attachment 10).
  12. An appeal is made at the Court of Cassation [2]. English and French translations of a sample of a Court of Cassation appeal decision, provided by the EFHR, are attached to this response (Attachment 11) (EFHR 25 Jan. 2021).

Corroborating information could not be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate within the time constraints of this Response.

Samples of other documents related to criminal investigation, including summonses could not be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate within the time constraints of this Response.

The EFHR also observed that "there is no real judicial process now" and "usually" an investigation is started with "ma[de] up charges and documents" (EFHR 26 Jan. 2021). The same source further stated that since 2013, the authorities have arrested members of the political opposition through the national security apparatus and not through the prosecutor; individuals are arrested and "torture[d]" by national security, who provide the prosecutor with "false information" (EFHR 26 Jan. 2021). The 2019 Amnesty International report describes the "growing role" of the Supreme State Security Prosecution (SSSP), a "special branch of the Public Prosecution" that investigates and prosecutes "'state security'" crimes and has powers for detaining suspects "usually reserved for judges," along with the use of the National Security Agency (NSA) and special courts, related to the "emergence" of a "parallel justice system" (Amnesty International 27 Nov. 2019, 7). The same report indicates that the "numbers of those detained by the SSSP pending investigation has increased markedly" since 2013 and that the "actual reason" behind most of the detentions by the SSSP was participating in peaceful protests, making public statements critical of the Egyptian President, or being involved in "political or human rights activities" (Amnesty International 27 Nov. 2019, 7–8). The same source further states that SSSP prosecutors admitted "confessions extracted under torture as evidence in trials" (Amnesty International 27 Nov. 2019, 9).

2. Appearance of Documents Related to a Criminal Investigation

The information in the following two paragraphs was provided by the EFHR in an interview with the Research Directorate:

Many documents are written by hand and signed by hand, including investigation documents and warrants from prosecutors. However, the authorities have begun putting documents online. All documents are signed by an officer. Arrests records, which are the document that is given to the defendant, are mostly written using a computer, but sometimes they are written by hand. Whether documents are written by hand or using a computer depends on the location. There "might" be the equipment to write them using a computer in Cairo or Alexandria; however, in other parts of Egypt and even in some parts of Cairo, documents could still be written by hand, depending on the equipment available at the location. Based on EFHR monitoring since 2013, approximately half of the documents are written by hand. Police stations often do not have the technology to write reports on a computer; however, at national security facilities, the investigation report is written on the computer.

All "arrest orders" issued by the prosecution should have signatures, stamps, and the Prosecutor's name. The accused "usually" does not receive a copy of the document, but they would be shown the document when they were arrested. An individual who has been charged does not receive any documents; however, sometimes their lawyer receives a copy of the documents or is permitted to take pictures of the documents. Individuals will also pay bribes to obtain access to documents and to be permitted to take pictures of them, however, they will not always receive access to documents and "in many cases," individuals cannot obtain this information. Access to documents also depends on an individual's profile – if they are a "famous" human rights activist, they will "likely" obtain access to them; however, if an individual is unknown, they will not. There is also a "price list" for these documents, and it can be "really expensive" to gain access to these documents (EFHR 26 Jan. 2021). Corroborating information could not be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate within the time constraints of this Response.

According to the sample documents provided by EFHR, the stamp of the SSSP, which appears in the original versions of Attachments 1 to 8, is circular and has an image of an eagle looking to the left [the Egyptian national emblem of the "Eagle of Saladin" (US n.d.)] in the centre.

This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the Research Directorate within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim for refugee protection. Please find below the list of sources consulted in researching this Information Request.

Notes

[1] The Egyptian Front for Human Rights (EFHR) is an organization based in the Czech Republic that "works to improve the human rights situation in Egypt through research, advocacy and legal work, specifically in criminal justice" (EFHR n.d.).

[2] According to EgyptJustice.com, an English-language website about the Egyptian judiciary that was founded by a former diplomatic attaché and legal advisor at the US embassy in Cairo, whose research focuses on the Egyptian judiciary and Egyptian law (EgyptJustice.com n.d.a), the Court of Cassation "is the supreme court of Egypt's common court system" (EgyptJustice.com n.d.b). A 2019 overview of the Egyptian legal system written by Mohamed S. E. Abdel Wahab, a professor and chair of the Private International Law Department at the Cairo University's Faculty of Law, states that "the Court of Cassation was established to provide exclusive and uniform interpretation and application of the law" and that it hears legal challenges by the accused or by the public prosecution (Wahab Nov./Dec. 2019).

References

Amnesty International. 27 November 2019. Permanent State of Exception: Abuses by the Supreme State Security Prosecution. (MDE 12/1399/2019) [Accessed 1 Apr. 2021]

Australia. 17 June 2019. Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT). DFAT Country Information Report: Egypt. [Accessed 4 Dec. 2020]

Egypt. 2014. Constitution of the Arab Republic of Egypt. [Accessed 1 Apr. 2021]

Egyptian Front for Human Rights (EFHR). 26 January 2021. Interview with the Research Directorate.

Egyptian Front for Human Rights (EFHR). N.d. "About Us." [Accessed 23 Mar. 2021]

EgyptJustice.com. N.d.a. "About." [Accessed 12 Apr. 2021]

EgyptJustice.com. N.d.b. "Court of Cassation." [Accessed 12 Apr. 2021]

United States (US). 11 March 2020. Department of State. "Egypt." Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2019. [Accessed 4 Dec. 2020]

United States (US). N.d. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). "Egypt: Country Flag." The World Factbook. [Accessed 6 Apr. 2021]

Wahab, Mohamed S.E. Abdel. November/December 2019. "Update: An Overview of the Egyptian Legal System and Legal Research." GlobaLex, Hauser Global Law School Program, New York University School of Law. [Accessed 12 Apr. 2021]

Additional Sources Consulted

Oral sources: Arabic Network for Human Rights Information; Committee for Justice; Egypt – Consulate General of Egypt in Montreal, Embassy of Egypt in Ottawa, Ministry of Interior, Ministry of Justice, Public Prosecution Office; Egyptian-American Rule of Law Association; Egyptian Center for Economic and Social Rights; Egyptian Commission for Rights and Freedoms; Egyptian Human Rights Forum; Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights; EgyptJustice.com; Human Rights Watch; law firms (12) in Egypt.

Internet sites, including: Ahram Online; Al Jazeera; Al-Monitor; Arabic Network for Human Rights Information; BBC; Brookings Institution; Cairo – Official Portal of Cairo Governorate; Canada – Embassy of Canada to Egypt, in Cairo; Committee for Justice; Daily News Egypt; ecoi.net; Egypt – Consulate General of Egypt in Montreal, Embassy of Egypt in Ottawa, Egyptian Government Services Portal, Ministry of Interior; Egypt Independent; Egyptian Center for Economic and Social Rights; Egyptian Commission for Rights and Freedoms; Egyptian Human Rights Forum; Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights; Egyptian Streets; Egypt Today; Factiva; Fédération internationale pour les droits humains; The Guardian; Human Rights Watch: INTERPOL; Jadaliyya; Mada Masr; Middle East Eye; Middle East Institute; Middle East Media Research Institute; Middle East Monitor; Middle East News Agency; The Tahrir Institute for Middle East Policy; UK – Home Office; UN – Human Rights Council, Refworld; United States Institute of Peace; US – Embassy in Egypt, Library of Congress, Overseas Security Advisory Council; The Washington Post; The Wilson Center.

Attachments

  1. Egypt. 2017. Public Prosecution Office, Supreme State Security Prosecution (SSSP). Sample of an investigation record. Sent to the Research Directorate by the Executive Director of the Egyptian Front for Human Rights (EFHR), 26 January 2021. Translated by the Translation Bureau, Public Services and Procurement Canada.
  2. Egypt. 2018. Public Prosecution Office, Supreme State Security Prosecution (SSSP). Sample of an arrest record. Sent to the Research Directorate by the Executive Director of the Egyptian Front for Human Rights (EFHR), 26 January 2021. Translated by the Translation Bureau, Public Services and Procurement Canada.
  3. Egypt. 2017. Public Prosecution Office, Supreme State Security Prosecution (SSSP). Sample of an investigation report. Sent to the Research Directorate by the Executive Director of the Egyptian Front for Human Rights (EFHR), 26 January 2021. Translated by the Translation Bureau, Public Services and Procurement Canada.
  4. Egypt. 2017. Public Prosecution Office, Supreme State Security Prosecution (SSSP). Sample of an Order to Extend Precautionary Detention form. Sent to the Research Directorate by the Executive Director of the Egyptian Front for Human Rights (EFHR), 26 January 2021. Translated by the Translation Bureau, Public Services and Procurement Canada.
  5. Egypt. 2018. Ministry of Justice, Forensics Department. Sample of a forensics report. Sent to the Research Directorate by the Executive Director of the Egyptian Front for Human Rights (EFHR), 26 January 2021. Translated by the Translation Bureau, Public Services and Procurement Canada.
  6. Egypt. 2017. Public Prosecution Office, Supreme State Security Prosecution (SSSP). Sample of a forensics memo. Sent to the Research Directorate by the Executive Director of the Egyptian Front for Human Rights (EFHR), 26 January 2021. Translated by the Translation Bureau, Public Services and Procurement Canada.
  7. Egypt. 2018. Public Prosecution Office, Supreme State Security Prosecution (SSSP). Sample of a Document Access Report. Sent to the Research Directorate by the Executive Director of the Egyptian Front for Human Rights (EFHR), 26 January 2021. Translated by the Translation Bureau, Public Services and Procurement Canada.
  8. Egypt. 2018. Public Prosecution Office, Supreme State Security Prosecution (SSSP). Sample of an investigation report. Sent to the Research Directorate by the Executive Director of the Egyptian Front for Human Rights (EFHR), 26 January 2021. Translated by the Translation Bureau, Public Services and Procurement Canada.
  9. Egypt. 2014. Cairo Court of Appeal. Sample of a hearing report. Sent to the Research Directorate by the Executive Director of the Egyptian Front for Human Rights (EFHR), 26 January 2021. Translated by the Translation Bureau, Public Services and Procurement Canada.
  10. Egypt. 2013. Port Said Criminal Court. Sample of a ruling. Sent to the Research Directorate by the Executive Director of the Egyptian Front for Human Rights (EFHR), 26 January 2021. Translated by the Translation Bureau, Public Services and Procurement Canada.
  11. Egypt. 2015. Court of Cassation. Sample of a Court of Cassation appeal decision. Sent to the Research Directorate by the Executive Director of the Egyptian Front for Human Rights (EFHR), 26 January 2021. Translated by the Translation Bureau, Public Services and Procurement Canada.