- December 19, 2009
Egypt: Ahmed Douma, student blogger, tortured during detention in Damanhour prison
Ahmed Saad Douma, a 20-year-old blogger and student at Tanta University, was arrested by State Security Intelligence (SSI -Amn Al-Dowla) at the Rafah border crossing between Gaza and Egypt on 4 February 2009. He was charged with "trying to illegally cross the eastern border." On 10 February 2009 he was tried before a military court and sentenced to one year in prison and fined 2000 LE ($US 360). He was tortured during his transfer to the prison and was again subjected to torture on 5 December 2009. Alkarama fears he is still at risk of torture.
Alkarama submitted his case today as an urgent appeal to the Special Rapporteur on Torture.
Egyptian bloggers targeted
Between January and February 2009, political tensions and public unrest increased noticeably in Egypt in response to the government’s inaction at the Israeli bombing of the Gaza Strip. In reactions to this, the Egyptian government cracked down on all demonstration in support of the Palestinian people. Mass arrests against demonstrators took place in January 2009 and activist bloggers were especially targeted: the infamous case of German-Egyptian blogger Philip Rizk, and Diaeddin Gad, editor of the Angry Voice, come to mind; both arrested in January 2009.
Ahmed Douma’s arrest in Febuary 2009, was not only because he is a blogger, but also because he and a number of other anti-war activists entered Gaza in solidarity with the Palestinian people and in protest of Israeli actions in Gaza but also the Egyptian government’s inaction during the conflict. As they re-entered Egypt through the Rafah crossing, the Egyptian authorities arrested them. They were then tried before Military Courts. Magdy Ahmed Hussein, a leading member of the Kefeya movement, whose case Alkarama had submitted to the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (WGAD) on 3 March 2009, was arrested along with the other activists.
Military Court, repeated torture
After being sentenced by a Military Court, despite being a civilian and holding no military position, Ahmed Douma was taken from Al-Arish SSI headquarters to Damanhour prison on 28 February 2009. During the transfer, the police officer in charge of his transfer took him to Al-Khalifa Police station, where he was severely tortured. He was beaten all over his body, handcuffed and hung by his wrists on the back of a door, which eventually caused his arm to break. Despite a formal complaint before the General Prosecutor of Damanhour, no action has been taken against the officer who tortured Ahmed Douma.
In November 2009, when Ahmed Douma requested permission to leave the prison to take his exams at Tanta University Law School, he was again subjected to serious torture and inhuman treatment. On 5 December 2009 he was taken from the political section of Damanhour prison and interrogated by the prison warden and the prison’s lead investigator. During the interrogation he was severely tortured and threatened with further violence and torture. The officers torturing him threatened to use false confessions extracted during this torture to try him again with new charges and they threatened to transfer him to solitary confinement.
Alkarama called upon the Special Rapporteur on Torture to request that the Egyptian government initiate and independent investigations into all allegations of torture related to Ahmed Douma’s case. The edicts of the Egyptian Penal Code as well Egypt’s obligations under the Convention against Torture require that such offenses be punished. Alkarama urges the that the Egyptian authorities guarantee the physical and psychological integrity of Mr Douma and that they respect the standards of treatment guaranteed to prisoners by Egyptian and International law.