Behind bars: when the law is turned into repression

8 Nov, 2022 | Press Releases


Pierfrancesco Majorino hosted and chaired an online parliamentary briefing on “BEHIND BARS: WHEN THE LAW IS TURNED INTO REPRESSION. The cases of Egypt, Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates”. Panellists to this event included Jess Kelly, Journalist, wife of Karim Ennarah, Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR); Ahmed Al Nuaimi, UAE Human Rights Defender; Lina al-Hathloul, Head of Monitoring and Communications at ALQST For human rights, sister of women’s rights activist Loujain al-Hathloul. Closing remarks were made by Niccolo’ Figa’-Talamanca, Secretary General, NPWJ.

The European Parliament has repeatedly condemned and stigmatised, through the instrument of Rule 144 (debates on cases of breaches of human rights, democracy and the rule of law) and thematic hearings, the abuses and human rights violations carried out through the politicisation of the judicial power and the courts system by the regimes ruling in Egypt, Saudi Arabia and UAE.

The cases of Ahmed Mansoor in UAE, Loujain al-Hathloul in Saudi Arabia and Karim Ennarah and Patrick George Zaki in Egypt, are only illustrative cases of the political use of the law for curbing fundamental rights, criminalise the work of democracy advocates, human rights defenders and opposition figures and crackdown on the development of an independent and free civil society; in other words, to stop and eliminate any possibility for democratic development and enjoinment of fundamental freedoms by the very judicial and legislative tools which should protect and defend them.

This on-line event aimed at exposing how the ruthless use of the judiciary and its subjugation to the will of those in power – including the practice of continuously postponing hearings to keep people in pre-trial detention indefinitely; the harsh, unjust and unjustified sentences handed down to opposition figures for exercising their universal rights, including in particular freedom of expression; the continued detention of human rights activists, even after these unfair sentences have been served – is the common denominator in these three countries, which amounts to a use of the judiciary as a tool of oppression, leading to a phenomenon also known as rule by law, the opposite of the rule of law, which incorporate a non-independent judiciary into the repressive machinery of the regimes.

For more information, please contact Laura Schirru, EU Advocacy Associate, at