Egyptian Anti-Torture Crusaders Proceed with Campaign Despite Local Media Hush-up
By Mohammad Baali
Albawaba.com - Cairo
Amid International interest in a campaign against torture in Egyptian police stations, the local media is turning a blind eye to the event.
Major news agencies and media giants in the world like Reuters, the BBC and the Voice of America have covered the crusade, undertaken by the Association for Human Rights Legal AID (AHRLA).
Except for an article by Al Ahram Weekly this week, almost all official and semi-official publications hushed over the event.
The association has issued a statement, of which Albawaba.com has a copy, charging that torture of suspects during interrogation at the police stations has become “ a widespread practice that is not limited to individual cases.”
Tarek Khater, the head of the legal department at AHRLA has said that the change of the motto, “Police is in the service of the people,” into Police and the People are in the service of the homeland,” is an indication that something has changed as regards the mission of the police.
Khater's remark came during a discussion of AHRLA's campaign against torture in police stations, which it launched on 15 August and which is due to last for five months.
"We do not think that torture in police stations has increased, but we do feel it's about time these practices were lobbied against and stopped," he told Al-Ahram Weekly.
The statement issued by AHRLA said that torture in police stations has become a dangerous practice "threatening the safety and dignity of citizens."
“But why has AHRLA singled out police stations when most human rights groups complain of violations inside prisons as well?” questioned the weekly.
"Well, we believe it's better to take it step-by-step and not open on all fronts at the same time," Samir El-Bagouri, AHRLA's legal consultant was quoted by the paper as saying..
"We are not targeting the security machine only here; we want to create awareness among people, the media, decision-makers, government officials, the People's Assembly etc. This is the only way everyone will know their rights," El-Bagouri explained.
The Egyptian Constitution clearly holds torture, the use of force, and all types of degrading treatment to be criminal offences, as do several international agreements to which Egypt is party and, which are, therefore, legally binding. And yet torture continues in police stations, says AHRLA, and the perpetrators go unpunished.
"A police officer who practices torture isn't normal, and needs rehabilitation," Khater argued. "I am not saying that this is a state policy. Everyone, rights activists and officials, are against torture."
This year alone, AHRLA says it has documented 10 cases of torture, and in the statement it claimed that citizens have even died during custody due to the brutal treatment by the police officers.
The Amnesty report this year confirmed the allegations, claiming that it has recorded thousands of such cases. It criticized the Egyptian government for its failure to protect its citizens – Albawaba.com
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