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Resolution adopted unanimously by the IPU Governing Council at its 183rd session
(Geneva, 15 October 2008)

The Governing Council of the Inter-Parliamentary Union,

Referring to the case of Mr. Ayman Nour, a member of the People's Assembly of Egypt at the time that the communication regarding him was submitted, as outlined in the report of the Committee on the Human Rights of Parliamentarians (CL/183/12(b)-R.1), and to the resolution adopted at its 182nd session (April 2008),

Taking account of the letter from the Speaker of the People's Assembly of 29 May 2008 whereby he conveyed the Attorney General's response to its request for a Committee delegation to be authorized to visit Mr. Nour; also taking account of his letter of 31 August and of his letter of 13 October 2008, which was hand-delivered to the IPU Secretariat,

Considering that Mr. Ayman Nour, founder of the opposition Al-Ghad party, who stood in the presidential elections of September 2005 in which he came second to president Mubarak, had his parliamentary immunity lifted on 29 January 2005, and was forthwith arrested on charges of forgery and counterfeiting for the purpose of founding his party; on 24 December 2005, he was found guilty and sentenced to a five-year prison term, which was upheld at final instance and which he is now serving; Mr. Nour's state of health is said to be poor; a petition for release on medical grounds which Mr. Nour filed in August 2006 was rejected on the basis of an official medical report conveyed to the prison authorities in January 2007 to the effect that Mr. Nour's continuing imprisonment did not endanger his life; appeals against that decision were rejected, on 31 May 2007 by the Cairo Felonies Court, on 31 July 2007 by the State Council and at final instance, on 17 March 2008, by the High Administrative Court; in mid-May 2007, Mr. Nour was assaulted by security officers in court where he had to attend a hearing in connection with another case; on 6 September 2007, one of Mr. Nour's co-accused, Mr. Ayman Hassan Ismail El-Refa'y, who had retracted his statement against Mr. Nour, was found hanged in his cell, which he shared with three other prisoners; the authorities claim he committed suicide, 

Noting more particularly the following details, as outlined in the Committee's report:

  • Mr. Nour's parliamentary immunity was lifted in less than one day, the Speaker having received the request for the lifting on Friday, 29 January 2005 at 1 a.m., the Committee on Constitutional and Legislative Affairs having met from 11 to 11.35 a.m. to discuss the case and the plenary from 12.20 to 2 p.m. when it voted in favour of the lifting of Mr. Nour's immunity; the sources have pointed out that procedures for the lifting of immunity normally take several months, even years, and mentioned in this context the cases of Mr. Fa'ek El Tenneihi, Mr. Ragab Helal Hemeida, Mr. Hany Serour, Mr. Emad El-Gelda and Mr. Mamadou Ismail (a member of the Upper House), accused, respectively, of falsifying powers of attorney, furnishing contaminated blood to hospitals, corruption and manslaughter;

  • Mr. Nour was accused, and later convicted, for having forged signatures to obtain the registration of his political party for which, according to Article 7 of the Law on Political Parties, 50 signatures are required; the Speaker stated in this respect that Mr. Nour, who had already gathered more than the 50 signatures, required more than 50 signatures because previous applications for registration had been rejected and a greater number of signatures would be “a proof of the popularity of the party” and have a stronger impact on the decision by the Political Parties Affairs Committee; however, according to the sources, Mr. Nour's previous applications were rejected not owing to a lack of signatures but because the party's programme, in the view of the Political Party Affairs Committee, did not differ from other political parties' programmes;

  • Ayman Hassan Ismail, one of Mr. Nour's co-accused, retracted his statement against Mr. Nour in court, claiming that it had been extracted from him under pressure; the Court concluded that no evidence as to such coercion had been adduced; while in prison, Hassan Ismail asked to be authorized to make new statements regarding the Nour case. Mr. Nour informed the prosecutor of that on 21 August and again on 1 September 2007, forwarding to him a report which he had received from Ayman Hassan Ismail and requested - to no avail - that he be heard by the Prosecutor. On 6 September 2007, Mr. Ayman Hassan Ismail was found hanged in his cell, which he shared with three other prisoners. According to the authorities, he had hanged himself with his bed sheet at the cell door, his cellmates having noticed nothing and found him dead at the time of the morning prayers. The authorities affirm that Mr. Ayman Hassan Ismail had committed suicide. The Prosecutor has refused repeated requests by Mr. Nour to be heard in this respect; he reportedly also refused to answer Mr. Nour's reiterated petitions for a retrial;

  • Mr. Nour has not been granted a full review of the merits of his case, since the Cassation Court is competent only to oversee the proper application of the law but not to look into the merits of a case;

  • On 12 May 2007, while in court attending a labour lawsuit, Mr. Nour was reportedly assaulted and beaten by security officers because, owing to his state of health, he refused to walk up several flights of stairs and had requested use of the lift, complaining of joint problems; the authorities shelved his complaint against the officers in question stating that testimony gathered proved the accusations against them to have been false; according to the sources, the case has never been submitted to court;

  • Mr. Nour suffers from various ailments, in particular diabetes and high blood pressure; he has a heart condition and has stents implanted, for which reason he lodged a petition for his early release on health grounds pursuant to Article 36 of Law No. 396/1956, which provides for the early release of prisoners suffering from a disease endangering their life or causing permanent incapacitation; in the course of the proceedings, the Attorney General/South Cairo Prosecution established a tripartite committee to examine the matter; in January 2007, that committee concluded that “the condition of the convict is but a disease, as per the diagnosis, shown in high blood sugar and hypertension that produced neither congested cardiac failure nor stiffness of knees” and that keeping him in detention constituted “no danger to his life if placed under medical care and supervision through frequent admissions to the prison specialized hospital for follow-up and treatment”; at the request of Mr. Nour, medical doctors and university professors at Al‑Qasr El-Ainy Hospital, Ain Shams University and Alexandria University drew up reports in which, on the basis of the medical data gathered by the tripartite committee, concluded that Mr. Nour's conditions were life-threatening, that continued imprisonment would render him disabled and that, moreover, some expressed doubt about how far the required treatment could be provided in prison hospitals; in its decision of 31 July 2007, the Administrative Judiciary Court concluded that it was established that Mr. Nour's ailments affected the kidneys and could narrow heart coronary blood vessels, but that it trusted the tripartite committee's report that Mr. Nour's ailments did not constitute at the time of his examination any life-threatening complication; it has been consistently alleged that Mr. Nour is not provided with the necessary medical treatment, and information provided by the authorities to the contrary has been contradicted by information from the sources;

  • According to the sources, Mr. Nour is not given special meals for diabetics and medication, although a court decision of 4 September 2007 ordered the authorities meet that requirement,
Considering that several requests by the Committee to carry out a mission and gather first-hand information from the competent authorities and from Mr. Nour, his family and his lawyer to clarify the sometimes conflicting information on file were rejected despite the Speaker's efforts to organize the mission and, more particularly, to secure a visit to Mr. Nour, which the Attorney General, however, deemed contrary to Egyptian law and interference with the Egyptian judiciary,

Considering that, in May 2008, the Attorney General reiterated his previous position and stressed that there was no precedent for a foreign body or representative thereof to visit an Egyptian prisoner; noting in this respect that the international non-governmental organization Human Rights Watch/Middle East Watch (HRW/MEW) had been authorized to conduct a fact-finding mission to Egypt in January and February 1992 to investigate arrest and detention practices and allegations of torture of individuals held in the custody of the security forces, that the HRW/MEW delegation, composed only of foreign nationals, had been able to visit six Egyptian prisons, including Tora Liman prison, over an eight-day period, and that the public report on the mission, issued in March 1992, clearly indicates that the HRW/MEW representatives were authorized to interview prisoners in their prisons; that, however, the Prison administration, in a letter forwarded by the Speaker stated that it had no information in this respect; that, furthermore, Egyptian sociologist Professor Saad Eddin Ibrahim, founder of two important human rights organizations, when incarcerated in Tora Farm Prison from 2000 to 2003 was visited by former Canadian Foreign Minister Flora McDonald, Ambassadors of various European Union countries, the President of the American University in Cairo, a US citizen as well as representatives of Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch,

Noting that in late May 2008 Mr. Nour reportedly suffered from food poisoning which severely affected his health and left marks on his skin, that he was apparently not taken to hospital until a week later; that, in his letter of 31 August 2008 the Speaker provided documents indicating that, according to the authorities, on 8 June 2008 Mr. Nour was taken to the hospital because of a suspected heart attack and received the necessary treatment before being taken back to prison,

Bearing in mind lastly that on 23 July 2008 President Mubarak, by Presidential Decree No. 200 pardoned over 1,500 prisoners having, like Mr. Nour, served half of their sentences; that, however, forgery was exempted from the Decree while, according to the sources, crimes such as murder, torture, corruption, espionage and state security crimes along with 60 other crimes were included and that Mr. Nour consequently was not covered by the pardon; that another pardon decree of October likewise excluded forgery from its scope; that, according to the Speaker, all presidential pardon decrees since 2002 have excluded forgery; that, however, according to the source, the majority of pardon decrees issued in the past by President Mubarak did not exclude forgery from their scope,

  1. Thanks the Speaker of the People's Assembly for his consistent cooperation, in particular his letters of 31 August and 13 October 2008, and regrets that the Committee was unable to meet with him at the session it held during the 119th IPU Assembly;

  2. Deeply regrets that the Attorney General has not authorized the Committee to visit Mr. Nour, although permission to visit Egyptian prisoners was granted in the past to foreigners, including to non-governmental human rights organizations;

  3. Remains deeply concerned at Ayman Nour's state of health, which, as stated by the tripartite committee, requires constant medical check-ups and frequent admissions to hospital; stresses in this context that, in its ruling of July 2007, the Administrative Judiciary Court specified that, at the time of the examination by the tripartite committee in January 2007, there was no life-threatening condition and that since then more than 18 months have elapsed without another thorough examination of his state of health;

  4. Deeply regrets that Mr. Nour was not covered by the pardon decrees issued in July and October this year, and calls on the President to pardon Mr. Nour,

  5. Believes that it is not only Mr. Nour's state of health which would justify a pardon but also the fact that the forgery of which the Egyptian courts found him guilty did not affect the rights or life of anyone and appears to have been immaterial since Mr. Nour had gathered far more than the 50 signatures necessary in order to register the Al-Ghad Party;

  6. Recalls that Egypt, as a member of the United Nations Human Rights Council, has pledged to uphold the highest standards in the field of human rights, and believes that pardoning Mr. Nour would be consonant with that commitment;

  7. Sincerely hopes that a meeting between the Speaker of the People's Assembly and the Committee can be arranged on the occasion of the next IPU Assembly with a view to their continued dialogue, and requests the Secretary General to take the necessary steps to this end;

  8. Requests the Committee to continue examining this case and report to it at its next session, to be held on the occasion of the 120th Assembly of the IPU (April 2009), when it hopes to be able to close the case following its satisfactory settlement.
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