Cairo – June 7th, 2012
On the occasion of the second anniversary of the death of Khaled Said, a young Egyptian victim of torture, on June 6th at the hands of two policemen in Alexandria, ANHRI calls on the Egyptian Parliament and Cabinet to speed up the process of reforming the Ministry of Interior, including a clear definition of torture in the Egyptian law, and laying out a strict penalty in such cases. The major part of the goals of the revolutions will be achieved only by correcting the loopholes of the law and applying it on everyone, especially the security services. The state of emergency must also come to an end on the ground.
After 31 years of enforcement, the emergency law was revoked on May 31st as the Egyptian Parliament opposed the desire of the Supreme Council of Armed Forces (SCAF) to extend its enforcement.
“The revocation of the state of emergency must be followed by other important steps to enforce the law on police officers and compel them to work within a transparent framework, rather than the authoritarianism and superiority that marred their handling of the Egyptian people over many decades,” said ANHRI.
The emergency state gave unlimited powers to police officers in arresting innocent people and allowed a range of violations of fundamental freedoms, including the confidentiality of correspondence, freedom of peaceful assembly, demonstrations… etc.
Cessation of the emergency law is not enough. All the laws that contravene human rights in the Penal Code must be amended, as well as all the laws that contain a load of legislation restricting the citizens’ rights and working on the security of the regime and not the country or the people.
ANHRI stresses on that it is the responsibility of the Egyptian Parliament to review these laws so as to match international conventions and charters on human rights ratified by Egypt years ago. The Penal Code must include a clear and explicit definition of torture and a strict and harsh punishment for it, as the local Egyptian law is still devoid of such important legal provisions.
The series of impunity for officers and police personnel in crimes of torture and killing of protesters is still ongoing after the revolution, which entrenches once again the impunity and superiority of the police.
ANHRI calls for a speedy adoption of the judiciary law and the separation between the Forensic Service and the Ministry of Justice. The promotion mechanism and selection of chairman of the Forensic Service must be reconsidered so that it is an independent body with no affiliation to the executive authority.
The forensic report before the revolution had confirmed the story of the Ministry of Interior that Khaled Said died of asphyxia as a result of swallowing a packet of drug, and not as a result of torture and beatings.
Following the revolution of January 25th, the investigation into the death of Said was reopened. The case was referred to the Alexandria Criminal Court which sentenced Mahmoud Salah and Awad Suleiman, policemen, to seven years of rigorous imprisonment for finding them guilty of “using cruelty and beating to death”.
Acquittal of most of the officers and soldiers accused of killing protesters is among the most important violations detected by human rights organizations in Egypt after the revolution. Also, Essam Atta, Egyptian citizen, was killed in Tora prison on October 10th, 2011, as a result of torture by police officers in the prison.
“Anyone in power who is willing to build a new democratic Egypt must start drafting laws that force the security servies to work within the framework of legitimacy and prosecute them for their infringements. Only then would torture end in Egypt,” said ANHRI.
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