Feature

3,462 Student Detainees in Egypt Sit Their Exams in Prison

3,462 Student Detainees in Egypt Sit Their Exams in Prison

A secondary school student taking his exam in Egypt.
A secondary school student taking his exam in Egypt.

By Jihad Abaza, Aswat Masriya

The number of detained students cited in the interior ministry’s statement on in-prison exams “reveals” the extent of “oppression against students in Egypt,” a student rights worker told Aswat Masriya on Thursday.

The interior ministry said in a statement on Tuesday that it will “allow” 3,462 students to take their exams inside prison, in coordination with the ministry of education. The statement did not specify the number of students convicted in political cases as opposed to criminal prisoners.

Amru Kilany works for the Justice Centre, an NGO that provides support for detained students. He told Aswat Masriya that there are 2,200 students who are “prisoners of conscience” or are detained in political cases.  One thousand and fifty of these students were arrested in the academic year of 2014-2015, he added.

More recently, security forces arrested 20 students on Jan. 25, according to the Justice Centre’s records. The day marks the fifth anniversary of the 2011 Uprising that toppled then-President Hosni Mubarak after he ruled the country for 30 years.

Kilany said that the Justice Centre has been assisting imprisoned students with the necessary procedures for exams. There are three parties involved in the paperwork: the universities and faculties, the prison administration, and the public prosecution.

“Sometimes the university or faculty refuses to give us the documents that prove that the student is enrolled with them, sometimes the public prosecutors refuse to give us the paperwork that proves that the student is imprisoned, and sometimes the prison administrators do not allow the students access to the exam itself,” Kilany said.

But overall, he added, there have been less violations by these three parties and many students have been allowed to take their exams, with the exception of practical exams, which he says universities maintain cannot be taken in prison due to their special nature.

A security source in Egypt’s prison services told Aswat Masriya that the interior ministry is going through the legal procedures regarding assisting students in continuing their education inside prison.

The source also said that for students to continue taking their exams, they must provide prison administrators with a sealed statement from their university as well as a stamped schedule of their exams. The prison administrators must then verify that the paperwork is original.

The source added that the interior ministry allows students access to the prison library to read, and that it allows them access to necessary textbooks.

“The exam is my right”

“Freedom Seekers,” an observatory that documents and surveys student imprisonment cases, began an initiative entitled, “the exam is my right” in December. The words “Freedom Seekers” in Arabic carry the double meaning of “Students for Freedom.”

The group stated that public prosecution has previously denied students the right to take their exams, even after having gone through all the necessary legal procedures that precede exams. It added that detained students have also been “arbitrarily” denied access to their school textbooks.

Ashraf Hatem, the secretary general of the supreme council of universities, told Aswat Masriya that universities allow students to take their exams inside their detention if they are enrolled in theoretical faculties. A student’s exams can also be postponed if their case is pending investigations, he said.

Hatem added that the bigger problem is with students whose studies pertain to sciences or engineering because theoretical exams alone are not enough in faculties in which practical exams are prevalent. These students cannot take their exams in detention and must postpone them until they are freed from prison, or until they complete their sentences, he said.

To get access to exams in prisons, students must provide universities with official documents from public prosecution proving that the students are imprisoned, Ashraf added.

The “Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners” adopted by the United Nations in 1955, state that “the education of illiterates and young prisoners shall be compulsory and special attention shall be paid to it by the administration.”

The Association for Freedom of Thought and Expression’s website has documented numerous cases in which students of various Egyptian universities were arrested and killed on and off campus since 2013. A number of state-owned universities, such as Cairo University, banned all on-campus student politics in 2014.

Cairo University President Gaber Nassar told the state-run MENA news agency at the beginning of the academic year in 2014 that politically-motivated student activities are a distraction from “the educational pathway.”

“This mass arrest of students is a pre-emptive strike on free speech and free assembly,” Joe Stork, the deputy Middle East and North Africa director for Human Rights Watch previously said. “Universities should be safe zones for the exchange of ideas, including political debates.”

“(The oppression) is about delays in (students’) studies, dreams, and ambitions,” Kilany added, “and because they are (arrested in) unjust cases, they do not get fair trials, and the police do not treat them in accordance with the law.”

This content is from: Aswat Masriya

Egypt Receives Three New French Rafale Fighter Jets
A Team of Refugees Will Participate in the 2016 Rio Olympics

Subscribe to our newsletter


Feature
@AswatMasriya_En

Aswat Masriya is a Thomson Reuters Foundation-sponsored website that covers Egypt's transition to democracy. en.aswatmasriya.com

More in Feature

01ea6fda4ec705de1f0d8307df4aad284af86e9fad1a6e2ae0a0f14630297bf5

Meet the Company Redefining Egypt’s Health Insurance Market

Enas El MasryDecember 4, 2016
13920532_1736726203248967_2577116043429050990_o

Making #HerStory Matter: Promoting Gender Equality on Arabic Wikipedia

Egyptian StreetsNovember 27, 2016
ahmed saied

‘We Made Chess Out of Soap’: Exclusive Interview with Released Political Prisoner Ahmed Saied

Aya NaderNovember 23, 2016
Students watch a movie being projected in the playground

The Oromo in Egypt: Why Have 11,000 Ethiopians Fled Their Homeland?

Nada NaderNovember 15, 2016
Trump at an early campaign event in New Hampshire on June 16, 2015. Photo by Michael Vadon

Egyptian Expats Weigh in on Trump Victory, Express Fear of Rhetoric

Aswat MasriyaNovember 12, 2016
An employee counts money at an exchange office in downtown Cairo
Credit: Amr Abdallah Dalsh/ Reuters

Timeline: The Egyptian Pound Over the Last Five Decades

Aswat MasriyaNovember 3, 2016
Photo courtesy of Blue Ocean PR

The Four Pillars of Happiness: Egyptian Lifestyle Consultant Discusses Wellness

Salma El SaeedNovember 2, 2016
pablo-breast-cancer

How You Can Help the 45,000 Egyptian Women Diagnosed With Breast Cancer Each Year

Egyptian StreetsOctober 31, 2016
Egyptian Streets is an independent, young, and grass roots news media organization aimed at providing readers with an alternate depiction of events that occur on Egyptian and Middle Eastern streets, and to establish an engaging social platform for readers to discover and discuss the various issues that impact the region.

© 2016 ES Media UG. All Rights Reserved.