EOHR initiated the third training course of how to eliminate the crime of torture in Egypt.

September 10th, 2013 by Editor

On Tuesday, September 10, 2013, EOHR opened the third training course for capacity building of Egyptian university students, activists and journalists to deal with the crime of torture at the headquarters of the organization and form a network of those who are interested in the crime of torture, in order to contribute to the eradication of this phenomenon, which violates the most basic human rights of the mere Egyptian citizens.

Mr. Ahmed Abdul Hafez, cassation lawyer and Vice President of the Organization, has initiated the first axis of the course about the crime of torture in the Egyptian legislation by tailing about the cruelty of the crime of torture as it’s one of the worst human rights abuses and one of the most dreadful crimes. He further added that torture is an assault on human’s physical integrity, dignity, and humanity; as torture may lead to death or a permanent disability to someone leading to his unemployment. Moreover, torture causes a lot of pain and psychological damage to the victim that may be difficult to get rid of easily, which also affect the victims’s families.

Mr.Abd Al Hafeez added that although the annulled Egyptian Constitution prohibited the crime of torture and the ratification of Egypt of The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights; there is still no appropriate legislative development which sets effective measures and procedures to protect the civilians from torture crimes, as well as other inhuman, cruel or degrading treatment, also existing legislation and procedures are still confined to the protection of the people from torture, and other inhuman conduct. In addition, he stressed that the provisions of Articles 126 and 128, Punishments law, don’t render any protection for the mental and physical hurt of the people inflicted upon them by the acts of Public Officials; as, according to Article 126, acts of torture against the family of a defendant in order to pressure him/her to confess something, don’t fall under the crime of torture, and according to Articles (126-282), prolonged investigations, concentrating spotlights on the faces of defendants during investigation or during their sleep, using vocal and sensory effects such as voices of people screaming as a result of torture, directing defamation phrases and curses to defendants, putting a blindfold on the eyes of defendants, putting handcuffs on the hands of defendants for a prolonged time,  and threatening defendants with oppression and death are considered crimes of torture only if they are carried out under an illegal arrest; whereas  in Article 282, these acts are not considered torture crimes in the case of legal arrests , or/and arrests based on emergency authority. Also, depriving detainees of food and clothes, putting them in an isolated confinements or prisons that affect the wellbeing of detainees’ mental and physical health are not considered to be acts of torture according to the Egyptian legislation.

D. Nadia Helmy, Political Science Professor at the University of Beni Suef, has talked about the second axis of the course about the crime of torture in international conventions and agreements; referring to the gradual prohibition of the crime of torture by States, especially after the establishment of the UN.

The UN has stipulated the ban on the use of torture through a series of declarations and conventions related to human rights; then at a later stage the trend towards criminalizing torture became through the articles stipulated in multilateral agreements in order to give the ban of torture a mandatory legal character.  As a result, an agreed upon international concept of torture appeared which was extracted from different international conventions that stipulated the prohibition of torture. Also, international law has applied a preventive approach concerning the crime of torture through devising international mechanisms to monitor the acts of any state, whether in the times of peace or war, or through finding legal principles that prevent the committers of torture to escape punishment.

 

In addition, Dr.Helmy added that The UN’s Convention against Torture defined torture in Article 1 (1) that, “For the purposes of this Convention, torture means any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as obtaining from him or a third person information or a confession, punishing him for an act he or a third person has committed or is suspected of having committed, or intimidating or coercing him or a third person, or for any reason based on discrimination of any kind, when such pain or suffering is inflicted by or at the instigation of or with the consent or acquiescence of a public official or other person acting in an official capacity. It does not include pain or suffering arising only from, inherent in or incidental to lawful sanctions.”

Dr. Helmy asserted that international charters and conventions on human rights prioritized and stipulated the rights of peoples’ freedom, body safety, and their protection from torture, inhuman, and degrading acts, also these conventions stipulated that all matters related to human rights of life and body safety as  peremptory; hence infringing these rights is unacceptable on national and international levels. Membership in the UN entails an obligation from the member countries regarding conventions and agreements ratified by them, or they will be liable to questioning in front of the UN.

From his side, Dr.Karim Ali Hassan Abdeen, a Political Science Researcher, asserted that previous years have witnessed the emergence of new means of combating torture like blogs, independent journals, civil society organizations, and protest movements, this was presented in the third axis of the workshop. Also, he added that means of facing the crime of torture have developed till the point of reaching the establishment of independent eligible entities qualified in facing that crime, depending on the new technological means. The case of torture became a major issue on the agenda of several local and international organizations especially that those who are negatively affected from this crime are public sector workers and citizens in general.

Dr.Karim added that the deficiency in the Egyptian legislation is a result of the absence of an inclusive definition of torture, which includes all forms of physical or/and psychological pain inflicted upon an individual aiming at terrorizing this individual, or extracting some information from him/her. In addition, there must be an integral legal system to combat the crime of torture like other crimes such as rape and drug crimes, also the legal code concerning the crime of torture should include deterrent punishments. Finally, the most important thing is the presence of real and practical vindication procedures; in addition the state should abandon the protection of the accused, especially internal ministry officials as most torture accusations are attributed to police officers.

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