The Ministry of Interior announced the release of 119 prisoners on Sunday after they were issued amnesties to commemorate Police Day and the fourth anniversary of the January 25 uprising.
Another 193 detainees were conditionally released and placed under police surveillance at the recommendation of a specialized advisory committee from the Prison Authority. Their release will be revised on a monthly basis.
The release of 312 prisoners is a far cry from the number of detainees that were expected to be pardoned. Late last month, mainstream media outlets reported that President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi might pardon up to 584 prisoners on the occasion of January 25.
The pardons reportedly do not include any high profile political activists or prominent oppositional figures.
According to Egypt’s Penal Code (specifically Article 75), to be granted amnesty, prisoners must: display good conduct whilst in detention, not represent a threat to general security and have fulfilled their financial obligations and paid any outstanding debts.
Prior to releasing the 312 prisoners, the authorities are reported to have arrested a total of 516 individuals in protests and clashes with security forces on the fourth anniversary of the January 25 uprising.
During a televised press conference on January 26, Minister of Interior Mohamed Ibrahim said, “I personally hope for the release of a large number of prisoners, at least to reduce the numbers in detention facilities.”
Local and international human rights groups have claimed that over 41,000 individuals have been arrested since the ouster of former President Mohamed Morsi on July 3, 2013. It is estimated that over 20,000 political prisoners are still in detention.
The Nadeem Center for the Rehabilitation of Victims of Violence claims that over 100 individuals have died while in the custody of security forces in 2014. These deaths have been largely attributed to inhumane prison conditions, overcrowding, neglect, abuse, and torture.