• March 15, 2010

Egypt: SSI in Fayoum terrorize Al-Baradei supporter

Egypt: SSI in Fayoum terrorize Al-Baradei supporter

On 2 March 2010, Egyptian State Security Intelligence (SSI) in Fayoum City summoned Taha Abdel Tawab Mohammed, a physician from Fayoum governorate in Egypt who had been organising support for Dr. Mohammad Al Baradei, a potential presidential candidate in Egypt’s 2011 presidential elections. Mr Tawab Mohammed was warned that if he did not respond to the call on the same day, he and his family would be immediately arrested.

Faced with these threats and allegations, Taha Mohamed had no other choice than to comply and deliver himself to the SSI building in Fayoum. Immediately as he entered the door, a group of police officers dragged him into the office where he was met with a barrage of insults and threats. He was then interrogated about his role in the ongoing campaign in Sanoores, Fayoum, in support Dr. Al-Baradei’s nomination for the presidential elections. Dr Al-Baradei, the former head of the International Atomic Energy Agency and recipient of the 2005 Nobel Peace prize, who returned to Egypt on the 19 February 2010, announced the creation of a “National Coalition for Change”, aiming to ensure free and fair elections in Egypt’s upcoming parliamentary in November 2010 and presidential elections in November 2011. Mr Taha Abdel Tawab Mohammed had been organising support for Mr Al-Baradei.

After a short period of questioning he was then ruthlessly beaten on his hands and feet, and ordered to strip. The SSI officers then beat him again, this time focusing on his legs, while violently insulting him. He was held until 8am on Tuesday 3 March 2010, when he was transferred from to Senoores Hospital for treatment of the wounds and extreme fatigue, resulting from the torture sessions.

At the hospital he managed to file a complaint. In response to his complaint, and much to Mr Tawab Mohammed’s disappointment, two police officers from Sanoores, came to investigate his claims. Taha Mohamed refused to talk to them for fear of re-arrest or further physical retaliation by his torturers. In the midst of his medical treatment, Taha Mohamed announced an open-ended hunger strike, which he vowed to uphold until the officers who arrested, humiliated and tortured him were prosecuted. He is still receiving treatment in Sanoores.

Alkarama emphasizes that Article 42 of the Egyptian Constitution criminalizes torture, stating that: “Any person arrested, detained or his freedom restricted shall be treated in the manner concomitant with the preservation of his dignity. No physical or moral harm is to be inflicted upon him. He may not be detained or imprisoned except in places defined by laws organizing prisons. If a confession is proved to have been made by a person under any of the aforementioned forms of duress or coercion, it shall be considered invalid and futile.”

According to articles 126, 129, 282 it is an offence for police officers to assault citizens; torturing a detainee as a means of extracting a confession is a felony, and its use by public officials is considered a misdemeanor. Arrest without justification is a punishable offense, as well as any arrest accompanied by threats or torture.

Alkarama intends to submit Taha Abdel Tawab Mohammed’s case to the United Nations human rights mechanisms, and calls upon the Egyptian authorities prosecute those involved in his arrest and torture. It is clear that their actions are in blatant violation of international human rights law and should therefore be punished.

It should be noted that Egypt ratified the Convention against Torture on 25 June 1986 and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights on 14 January 1982.