Annual Report: Egypt 2013

May 23, 2013

Annual Report: Egypt 2013

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Torture and other ill-treatment

No legal or policy reforms were implemented to eradicate torture under either the SCAF or President Morsi’s administration. The People’s Assembly discussed harsher penalties for torture but did not introduce them before its dissolution. Torture and other ill-treatment continued and security forces acted with impunity. One NGO recorded 88 cases of torture or other ill-treatment by police during President Morsi’s first 100 days in power. Protesters arrested by riot police or the military were subjected to severe beatings and electric shocks in custody, including in Tora Prison, south of Cairo, where detainees also suffered overcrowding, inadequate clothing and lack of medical care. Some male protesters said they were abducted and taken to undisclosed locations, where they were given electric shocks and sexually abused to make them give information on their involvement in protests.

  • George Ramzi Nakhla was arrested in Cairo on 6 February. He said riot police tied his arms and legs to the back of an armoured vehicle and slowly dragged him along the road while others beat him with batons. He was beaten again at the Ministry of Interior and given electric shocks. He received no medical treatment for a broken arm and was forced to squat with 13 other men for several hours. At Tora Prison, he was beaten with electric cables and verbally abused. Following a three-day hunger strike, he was released on 25 March.
  • Abdel Haleem Hnesh was arrested by military forces on 4 May at a protest in Abbaseya, Cairo. He said troops severely beat him with 2m-long sticks and electric batons, and then took him with some 40 others to military area S28 in Cairo. He was presented to military prosecutors, and then transferred to Tora Prison where he was beaten on arrival with hoses and sticks. He was released five days later.

Unfair trials

The new Constitution allowed for military trials of civilians, which are inherently unfair. The People’s Assembly amended the Military Justice Code in April 2012, stripping the President of his authority to refer civilians to military court. However, it did not amend articles giving military courts jurisdiction to try civilians. In July, President Morsi established a committee to review cases of civilians tried by military courts as well as others held by the Ministry of Interior, and “revolutionaries” imprisoned by the ordinary judiciary. In July and August, President Morsi pardoned some 700 people based on the committee’s recommendations, and in October decreed a general amnesty for offences committed while “supporting the revolution” in 2011 and 2012. However, the decree failed to provide fair trials for some 1,100 civilians imprisoned by military courts for other criminal offences.

Although the state of emergency expired at the end of May, some cases continued to be tried by emergency courts, including terrorism-related offences and protest and communal violence cases.

  • On 4 May the army arrested Mahmoud Mohamed Amin among some 300 protesters demonstrating against military rule in Abbaseya, Cairo. They were referred to military prosecution and trials, on charges such as “attacking army members” and “disrupting public order”. On 20 May, Mahmoud Mohamed Amin and other detainees went on hunger strike to protest against their trial by military courts. He was released on 19 June pending trial, but charges against him were dropped under the presidential amnesty in October.

Excessive use of force

Protests in early 2012 were mainly against military rule. Following President Morsi’s election, demonstrations were held by his supporters and opponents. Security forces were largely absent, especially during large Tahrir Square protests, but in some instances they clashed with protesters. No reform of the police was initiated and the authorities employed tactics reminiscent of the Mubarak era, with security forces using excessive force against protesters. Riot police used excessive and unnecessary force, including firearms and US-made tear gas.