- Human RightsMilitary Tribunal
- April 16, 2007
- 6 minutes read
Mubarak’s Regime Rejects Amnesty International Report
on Thursday rejected a report by a leading human rights group that accused the country of systematic abuse against prisoners, calling it inaccurate and unfair.
Amnesty International’s report Wednesday said 18,000 people were in Egyptian jails without trial, some for more than a decade. It said torture was pervasive in police stations and prisons.
“The Egyptian government is offended by the latest report which included inaccurate and biased information about the state of human rights in Egypt,” the Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
London-based Amnesty warned rights abuses were likely to worsen because of constitutional amendments approved last month that suspended civil rights in terror investigations and enabled the state to prosecute civilians in military courts.
The Foreign Ministry said Egypt has made “real and continuous achievements in the field of human rights,” citing the establishment of the National Council of Human Rights, a state-appointed body chaired by former U.N. Secretary-General Boutros Boutros Ghali.
The council has been accused by local rights groups of failing to challenge the state. But last month it raised eyebrows by accusing authorities of numerous violations in the referendum on the constitutional amendments.
Click on Fathi Abul Ezz’s cartoon below to read the full AP report by Nadia Abou El-Magd…
Click on the photo below I took of the press conference to read the AI report…
And here’s an AFP story by Paul Schemm…
Amnesty says Egypt rights situation getting worse
CAIRO, April 11, 2007 (AFP) – Amnesty International on Wednesday strongly condemned what it termed the “systematic abuses” of human rights in Egypt, particularly in light of recently passed amendments to the constitution.
Wide powers for security services, systematic torture of detainees, the use of unjust courts were all cited by the report from the London-based rights organisation as evidence of a worsening situation in Egypt where even the few constitutional protections are being rolled back.
“I would say that it is worse in the sense that the few safeguards that we had in the constitution are now being attacked,” Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Amnesty’s Middle East deputy director told reporters, referring to the amendments passed in a sparsely attended referendum March 26.
“Torture and other ill-treatment, arbitrary arrests and detention, and grossly unfair trails before emergency and military courts have all been been key features of Egypt’s 40-year state of emergency and counter-terrorism campaign,” said the report.
In particular it highlighted a new anti-terrorism law being prepared by the government to replace the old emergency law under which some 18,000 people are estimated by Amnesty to be detained without charge.
“What we see and we fear with the new law is a broad definition of terrorism crime that would criminalise the peaceful excercise of rights that are guaranteed internationally,” Sahraoui said.
The report, “Systematic abuses in the name of security”, also highlighted how the United States and other countries used the process of “renditions” to send terrorism suspects to Egypt to be interrogated, in contravention of international law.
According to Egyptian Prime Minister Ahmed Nazif in 2005, between 60 and 70 terrorism suspects had been sent for interrogation to Egypt since 2001 despite the widespread use of torture and lack of accountability of security services.
“No judicial control can be exercised over the conduct and activities of the General Intelligence and the State Security who would most likely be responsible for detaining the returnees,” noted the report.
One of the most high profile of such detainees, Osama Mustafa Hassan, also known as Abu Omar, appeared at Wednesday’s press conference to speak with one of the Amnesty researchers, but without making any public comments.
Abu Omar was kidnapped off the streets of Milan by the American CIA and spirited to Egypt where he says he was tortured for seven months by security officials in a case documented by the Amnesty report.
Though cautioned by security officials not to speak to the press, he has since appeared at a number of trials and conferences to speak out about his abuse by security forces.
Egyptian officials have repeatedly sought to justify their recent efforts to curtail rights as being similar to anti-terrorism legislation found in other countries, including the United States.
Curtis Goering, senior deputy executive director of Amnesty’s American branch, attended the conference to warn Egypt against following the example of the US’s Patriot Act anti-terrorism legislation.
“I am here today to say to the government of Egypt, don’t follow the US example,” he said, condemning the Patriot Act as “the most radical assault on constitutional rights and freedom in decades.”
“Anti-terrorism legislation which disregards basic human rights will not and does not make us any safer, whether in the US or Egypt,” he said.