Egyptian Presidential Pardon Committee releases 50 pretrial detainees

Special Egyptian Presidential Pardon Committee releases 50 pretrial detainees
The names of the list were announced on Twitter by MP Tarek El-Khouly, a member of the committee, which included 50 detainees who received a presidential pardon. (Twitter/@khouly85)
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Updated 03 October 2022

Egyptian Presidential Pardon Committee releases 50 pretrial detainees

Egyptian Presidential Pardon Committee releases 50 pretrial detainees
  • The legal moves have continued as the government and various political forces in the country prepare for a wide-ranging national conversation on political, economic, and social issues

CAIRO: Egypt’s Presidential Pardon Committee has announced the release of 50 pretrial detainees.
The committee said that it had completed its procedures in coordination with the relevant agencies to release a new batch of detainees who are not involved in violence and do not belong to terrorist groups.
The committee confirmed in a statement the continuation of its work during the coming period in containing and integrating the released persons in accordance with the directives of President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi, which are implemented in coordination with state agencies and institutions.
The names of the list were announced on Twitter by MP Tarek El-Khouly, a member of the committee, which included 50 detainees who received a presidential pardon.
The committee also confirmed its aspiration for more releases.
Tariq Al-Awadi, a member of the committee, said: “We hope to speed up the pace of consideration of the remaining detainees, close this file permanently, and turn this page completely.”
Al-Awadi continued: “All that concerns me is the release of all those imprisoned in opinion cases, and I am not interested in who or what the reason for their release was.”
Last September, Egypt ordered the release of 39 pretrial detainees.
The legal moves have continued as the government and various political forces in the country prepare for a wide-ranging national conversation on political, economic, and social issues.
The committee was one of the outcomes of the first National Youth Conference in 2016, where Egyptian youth addressed government leaders with presidential engagement.
In April this year, El-Sisi said during his speech at the Egyptian Family Iftar that he would reactivate the work of the Presidential Pardon Committee that was formed as one of the outcomes of the conference.
Since the committee’s formation in 2016, a variety of political parties and organizations, including the National Council for Human Rights and parliament’s Human Rights Committee, have submitted the names of prisoners who are eligible for presidential pardon consideration.


EU cash injection boosts health care services for Syrian refugees in Turkiye

EU cash injection boosts health care services for Syrian refugees in Turkiye
Updated 11 sec ago

EU cash injection boosts health care services for Syrian refugees in Turkiye

EU cash injection boosts health care services for Syrian refugees in Turkiye
  • In one of the largest projects it has funded, the EU provided €50 million for a new 400-bed hospital that opened this week in the border city of Kilis
  • The city’s population grew massively due to an influx of Syrians fleeing the war in their country, which overwhelmed its existing health care system

ANKARA: A new 400-bed hospital, built with €50 million ($52.5 million) of EU funding, opened to patients on Tuesday in the border city of Kilis in southeastern Turkiye.
The project, one of the largest funded by the EU, is part of the bloc’s continuing investment in health infrastructure in the country to improve medical services for Syrian refugees and their host communities. It is managed by the Council of Europe Development Bank and the Turkish Ministry of Health.
Kilis is just a few miles from the border with Syria and often witnesses exchanges of artillery fire in the civil war that has devastated its neighbor. It previously had only one public hospital, which opened in 2007, to serve the needs of both the native and refugee population.
The city’s population massively expanded as a result of an influx of refugees when the war began in Syria in 2011. There are currently about 91,000 Syrians in Kilis, a community that is more than a third of the size of the local population of 237,000. This placed huge demands on the local health care system as the existing hospital struggled to cope. The new hospital, which is equipped with the latest medical technology, will help to ease the pressure.
Kilis, like other Turkish provinces, lacked a proper mechanism for coping with refugees and distributing them more evenly when Syrians began to pour into the country more than a decade ago, said Omar Kadkoy, a migration-policy analyst at TEPAV, a think tank in Ankara. This created problems providing access to basic services and has caused social friction at times, he added.
“Therefore the new hospital in Kilis is a big relief,” Kadkoy told Arab News. “In parallel, those funding it and implementing the project should loudly communicate the overall inclusive benefits of the new hospital.”
The hospital has 24 operating rooms and offers round-the-clock emergency services. It can accommodate more than 3,000 patients at any given time and treat then using state-of-the-art health equipment, including imaging systems, an MRI facility, two dialysis rooms, 10 X-ray rooms, mammography and tomography facilities, and intensive care units. It is thought to be the biggest and most modern hospital in the region.
The existing hospital, which has 200 beds, will now used as a maternity and children’s facility for locals and refugees. In addition there are four health centers for migrants in Kilis.
In a speech at the official opening of the hospital, Ambassador Nikolaus Meyer-Landrut, head of the EU delegation to Turkiye, described it as “one more EU-funded project that will have a huge impact on the growing community of Kilis.”
Kadkoy said that in addition to the health benefits, the new hospital will also provide much-needed employment opportunities.
“Taking into account the population composition in Kilis, the hospital should welcome Turkish and Syrian health care professionals,” he said. “Doing so contributes to the integration of Syrians in the labor market and pushes social cohesion forward in a practical way.”
The EU said it has provided more than €10 billion in funding for Syrian refugees and their host communities since 2014, €1 billion of which was earmarked for health care.
Under the flagship SIHHAT project, worth €720 million, the EU and the Turkish Ministry of Health worked together to set up several mental and physical health facilities in areas across the country with high concentrations of refugee. They employ more than 4,000 health workers and support staff, including Syrian nurses and doctors, as well as bilingual guides to assist refugees during medical consultations. The EU said more than 300,000 refugees have so far benefited from these facilities.
The EU also provided €40 million of funding for a 250-bed hospital in the southern province of Hatay-Dortyol, where there are large numbers of Syrian refugees. It opened last summer.
Brussels invested €90 million in a project called “Strengthening Healthcare Infrastructure for All,” which included the construction of dozens of health centers for migrants, the renovation of existing centers and hospitals, and the provision of equipment for new physiotherapy and rehabilitation units in existing facilities.
The EU said its support for Turkiye’s health sector will continue next year, with a particular focus on cancer treatment and mitigating the effects of climate change on health.


Italian far-right activists held for assault on Morocco soccer fans

Italian far-right activists held for assault on Morocco soccer fans
Updated 07 December 2022

Italian far-right activists held for assault on Morocco soccer fans

Italian far-right activists held for assault on Morocco soccer fans
  • The supporters were revelling in the centre of the northern Italian city on Tuesday evening after Morocco's victory over Spain
  • Fans were attacked by a group of men dressed in black with their faces covered, police said

ROME: Italian police said on Wednesday they had detained 13 far-right activists in Verona for an assault on Moroccan soccer fans who were celebrating their historic qualification for the World Cup quarter-finals.
The supporters were revelling in the center of the northern Italian city on Tuesday evening after Morocco’s victory over Spain when they were attacked by a group of men dressed in black with their faces covered, the police said in a statement.
Those held “were identified by investigators as militants of far-right groups in the city,” it said.
Morocco’s World Cup progress has seen vibrant celebrations by its supporters in cities with large Moroccan immigrant populations around the world, which have sometimes turned violent.
Their victory over Belgium in the group stage sparked riots in Brussels, and on Tuesday evening video footage showed fans lighting flares and throwing furniture and other objects in the center of Milan.
Italy’s Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini, leader of the anti-immigrant League party, tweeted the images of the Milan episodes, saying he hoped those responsible would be identified and made to pay for the damage to property.
He did not comment on the incidents in Verona.


US to ban Sudan officials who hold up post-coup transition

US to ban Sudan officials who hold up post-coup transition
Updated 07 December 2022

US to ban Sudan officials who hold up post-coup transition

US to ban Sudan officials who hold up post-coup transition
  • The ban would also apply to immediate family members of any current or former officials targeted
  • The State Department did not list who would be affected

WASHINGTON: The United States said Wednesday it would bar visas to any current or former Sudanese officials who hold up a transition to democracy, hoping to boost a tentative deal between the military and civilians.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken voiced US support for the initial agreement announced Monday, which some pro-democracy protesters see as falling short on specifics and timelines.
“Recognizing the fragility of democratic transitions, the United States will hold to account spoilers — whether military or political actors — who attempt to undermine or delay democratic progress,” Blinken said in a statement.
The ban would also apply to immediate family members of any current or former officials targeted. The State Department did not list who would be affected.
“We once again call on Sudan’s military leaders to cede power to civilians, respect human rights and end violence against protesters,” Blinken said.
“At the same time, we urge representatives of Sudan’s civilian leaders to negotiate in good faith and place the national interest first.”
Longtime dictator Omar Al-Bashir was ousted in April 2019 following massive youth-led protests but the army chief, Abdel Fattah Al-Burhan, in October last year derailed the transition by carrying out a military coup.
The United States following the coup suspended $700 million in aid that was meant to help Sudan cope economically as it moves toward democracy.
The latest US step is an expansion of visa restrictions imposed during the first stage of Sudan’s democratic transition.


Iranian ex-president lauds anti-regime protests

Iranian ex-president lauds anti-regime protests
Updated 07 December 2022

Iranian ex-president lauds anti-regime protests

Iranian ex-president lauds anti-regime protests
  • ‘Freedom trampled under pretext of protecting security,’ says Mohammad Khatami
  • Former leader calls on regime to meet protesters’ demands ‘before it is too late’

LONDON: Iran’s former President Mohammad Khatami has praised anti-regime protests and urged authorities to meet protesters’ demands “before it is too late,” the BBC reported.

The two-term reformist president, who served between 1997 and 2005, described “woman, life, freedom” as a “beautiful slogan,” and said that it showed Iranian society was moving toward a better future.

Khatami also criticized the security forces’ crackdown and arrest of students.

“It should not be allowed that freedom and security are placed in opposition to one another, and that as a result freedom is trampled under the pretext of maintaining security, or that security is ignored in the name of freedom,” he said.

“I advise officials to appreciate this presence and instead of dealing with it unjustly, extend a helping hand to them and, with their help, recognize the wrong aspects of governance and move toward good governance before it is too late.”

Khatami’s comments came in a statement to mark Student Day on Wednesday, with students having been at the forefront of the wave of protests that are now into their fourth month.

Protests were sparked by the September murder of 22-year-old Kurdish woman Mahsa Amini while in the custody of Iran’s notorious morality police.

Her death ignited pent-up frustrations over falling living standards, and discrimination against women and minorities.

Protests have spread to more than 150 cities and 140 universities in all 31 of Iran’s provinces, and are now considered the most serious challenge to the regime since it took power in the 1979 revolution.

Iran’s leadership has sought to portray the protests as “riots” instigated by “foreign enemies.”

Despite the brutal crackdown by security forces, which have led to the deaths of 473 protesters and the detention of more than 18,000 people, demonstrations show little sign of abating, with Khatami describing student involvement as “perhaps unprecedented.”

Iran’s judiciary also sentenced five protesters to death on charges of “corruption of the Earth” on Tuesday, with 11 others, including three children” handed long prison sentences.

Director of Iran Human Rights Mahmood Amiry-Moghaddam told AFP News: “These people are sentenced after unfair processes and without due process. The aim is to spread fear and make people stop protesting.”

A total of 11 protesters have now been sentenced to death, with the country’s judiciary chief saying on Monday that executions will be carried out “soon.”


Iran executions up more than 50% this year

Iran executions up more than 50% this year
Updated 07 December 2022

Iran executions up more than 50% this year

Iran executions up more than 50% this year
  • Over 500 people killed, says rights body
  • ‘Crackdown led by President Ebrahim Raisa’

LONDON: Iranian authorities have executed more than 500 people this year, according to data released by Iran Human Rights.

Up more than 50 percent on 2021’s figure of 333, the spike in executions marks a dramatic shift following years of decline, with numbers only likely to climb amidst the government’s brutal response to protests in the wake of the death of Mahsa Amini while in police custody.

Five further death sentences were handed out to protesters yesterday, for killing a member of the security forces, bringing to 11 the total number arising from the protests.

Meanwhile nine people have been charged over the killing of Iran’s nuclear weapons chief, Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, in November 2020. Israel’s security agency, Mossad, has been blamed for Fakhrizadeh’s death.

Newly elected president and former prosecutor, Ebrahim Raisi, played a central role in the 1980s killing spree that resulted in the execution of thousands of opposition supporters.

His election last year, combined with the surging number of death sentences, are considered reflective of the increasing dominance of hardliners over Iranian politics.