EOHR opens the second training workshop on dealing with the crime of torture

June 12th, 2013 by Editor

 On June 12, 2013, EOHR started the second workshop for the training of lawyers in dealing with the crime of torture. All day, a group of lawyers and law researchers have been trained on how to deal with cases of torture. This training is a part of the activities of the EOHR program on torture which aims at building capacity of legal professionals regarding dealing with torture crime in Egypt in order to be able to fight this phenomenon and to stop impunity.

The first session of the workshop covered the crime of torture in the Egyptian legislation given by Mr. Ahmed Abdel Hafiz, lawyer and Vice-president of EOHR. He pointed out that torture is one of the most dangerous violations suffered by individuals in Egypt; it is an attack against human dignity itself. Torturing is strongly condemned as a crime by the international law as well as the conditions which led to this practice.

Mr. Abdel Hafiz added that although the Egyptian Constitution and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights ratified by Egypt ban the use of torture, the Egyptian legal system still lacks the necessary measures to efficiently protect individuals from torture and inhuman treatment. Nonetheless the laws and procedures provide protection to victims after they had been subjected to abuse.

Articles 126, 128 and 282 do not guarantee efficient protections for the mental and psychological integrity of individuals. There are a lot of shortcomings. First, if these abuses happen in order to extract confession of the victim or any of his family members regarding any committed crime, the public servant that subjected the individual would not be seriously penalized according to article no. 126 of the Egyptian Penal code. Secondly about the definition of torture: are excluded from the crime of torture, any acts of intimidation, practicing excessively long interrogation, dazzling the victim during interrogation or sleep, permanently blindfolding or handcuffing the prisoner, threatening or using sound effects to influence the victim as disturbing repeated noises, screams of distress or pain from other tortured and voices of his relatives in defaming extracts. All these torturing methods are not effectively considered as torture by the article 282, except in the case of illegal detention. Likewise the interdiction of eating or dressing and placement in isolation in unhealthy rooms are not included under the umbrella of crime of torture.

The second topic was the crime of torture in the international law and has been led by Mr. Hafez Abu Seada, the head of EOHR. He summarized the different steps taken by the states in order to criminalize torture. The ban of torture started through a series of declarations and agreements related to human rights. Then, in a later stage, the criminalization of torture took place in the text itself of the Conventions rules thus becoming mandatory. And finally the international law turned into a preventive approach of the crime of torture through mechanisms which watch the practices of the states, in both war and peacetime. The international community established judiciary principles to stop impunity.

Mr. Abu Seada added that at the first look at the definition of torture given by the international law seems broad, but taking into account the ethical specificities of each country, it seems more like the minimum on which the contracting countries were able to agree.

Afterwards Mr. Mohamed El Badawy, Director of the Legal Support Unit of EOHR, said that the target of the international law is to definitively ban torture through the implementation of effective mechanisms. Two methods are developed. The first one is to create new international mechanisms able to monitor the states and to detect the situation of torture, alerting the international community if necessary. It should allow the international community to take the required measures in accordance to the international law to stop the prohibited practices of the state. Amongst these mechanisms there is the Committee for Human Rights affiliated to the Economic and Social Council and the Committee Against Torture created by the Convention Against Torture. The second method is the implementation of international judiciary rules to stop impunity.


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