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Court Case Spotlight
Implications for Rights and Freedoms

Muhammad Ramadan Case

Court / Presiding Judge

First Review: Alexandria Criminal Court
Second Review: Alexandria Criminal Court

Procedural History

On April 12, 2017, the court issued its first verdict. As the defendant was sentenced in absentia, a retrial was ordered in July 2017, but has been suspended until the Supreme Constitutional Court issues a verdict on the constitutionality of Article 37 of the Counter-terrorism Law.


Upon initial review, the court sentenced Muhammad Ramadan in absentia to 10 years in prison, followed by a five-year house arrest and a five-year social media ban. Since then, a retrial was ordered, though it has since been suspended pending a separate Supreme Constitutional Court ruling.

Summary of Reasoning

Human rights lawyer Muhamamd Ramadan faced charges of insulting the president, misusing social media, and inciting violence for his alleged Facebook posts.

Anecdotal Notes

Ramadan was prosecuted and sentenced using Egypt’s Counter-terrorism Law No. 94 of 2015 in one of the first-ever applications of the law. The case also constituted one of the first times in which a defendant was punished with a social media ban. Although a retrial of this case has been suspended for now, Ramadan was arrested again in a separate case in December 2018 on possible charges of "belonging to a banned group" after he posted a photo of himself online while wearing a yellow vest around the time of the French protests. He has been held in pre-trial detention since. While in detention, Ramadan's mother passed away; despite requests for Ramadan to visit his ill mother before her passing, as well as to attend the funeral, authorities left these requests unresponded to.

Legal & Judicial Implications

The fact that human rights lawyer Ramadan was tried using the new Counter-terrorism Law in one of the first cases in which the law was actually applied raises serious questions on whether the Counter-terrorism Law was enshrined to combat terrorism or to crackdown on peaceful, independent voices. Ramadan’s trial and the application of the Counter-terrorism Law to the work of a human rights lawyer and human rights defender raises violations to the right to freedom of expression and due process, both of which are protected by Egypt’s domestic and international legal obligations.