The Egyptian Organization for Human Rights initiates the fourth workshop of “How to Combat the Crime of Torture in Egypt”.

October 29th, 2013 by Editor

EOHR has initiated the fourth workshop on Tuesday, 29 October, 2013 to build the capacity of university students, activists, and journalists to deal with the crime of torture in Egypt. The main goal of the workshop is to form a network of those who are concerned with the file of torture in Egypt; this network will participate in eliminating the phenomenon of torture in the society that violates the minimum rights of the Egyptian Citizen.

The first part of the workshop has tackled the status of the crime of torture in the Egyptian Legislation. Tarek Zaghlol, Executive Director of EOHR, has started the workshop by discussing the crime of torture in the Egyptian Legislation, referring to the indicator of torture in Egypt is moving in the direction of apathy to what have been stipulated within the international law regarding the protection of human rights; as international law provisions have specified the limits of the state when dealing with citizens, and have specified the positive role of the states towards the people. In addition, Egypt has signed and ratified the conventions that stipulate the rights of the people and has been submitted, willingly, to the observation of judicial devices and pseudo-judicial devices that receive complaints from the people. However, the legislative structure hasn’t witnessed any amendments or improvements to be compatible with the commitments of Egypt in the international law.

Zaghlol has further added that even though the new constitution has prohibited the crime of torture and the ratification of Egypt on the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, there is no legislative improvement with appropriate measures and effective procedures for the protection of the victims of torture and other cruel and inhuman treatment; on the contrary, existing legislations and procedures are still not sufficient to protect the people from the crime of torture.

Nadia Helmy, Political Science Teacher at Beni Suef University, has discussed the second topic in the workshop, that is, the crime of torture in international conventions and agreements, referring that the international law has identified the crime of torture in an explicit manner as a sign of respect to the ethical sspecificities of each state. The definition of the crime of torture in the international law represents the minimum one based on the consensus amongst contracting countries; as that definition is compatible with practical necessities to procure the agreement of as many contracting countries as possible.

Dr.Helmy has added that international conventions and agreements have given the priority to the human freedom, his/her body safety, and his/her protection from all sorts of torture, cruel treatment, or any acts leading to the humiliation of the human dignity. Also, these conventions have made all the regulations related to human life, body safety and his/her right to freedom as peremptory norms which can’t be disputed internationally or nationally; as the UN membership necessitates the commitment to the provisions stipulated in international conventions, as when member countries violate their obligations shall be held accountable to the UN and its committees.

From his side, Karim Ali Hassan Abdeen, Researcher at the Faculty of Economics and Political Science, has discussed the third topic, that is,  how to face the crime of torture. He has referred that current legislations to combat torture lack one of the most important pillars which is the absence of a specific and clear definition for the crime of torture, as well as the procedure to prove the occurrence of the crime; hence impunity of the perpetrators. That what have caused the shift of the crime of torture from an individual crime that happens rarely to a spreading phenomenon within the Egyptian Society, as well as the indifference of the penalties when committing the crime. Also, normally the burden of proving the occurrence of the crime of torture lays on the victim, but it’s very hard to do so in the cases of torture as the perpetrators are usually law enforcement officials; mainly police officers who are supposed to protect the citizens, preserve their dignities, and preserve their safety.

Abdeen has further added that Criminal Procedure Law ignores extensively the procedures to prove the crime of torture. Also, the law no. 109 of police authority, for the year 1972, encompasses article 102 which gives the right to policemen to use force to perform their duties, in addition to the issuance of court decisions that describe the crime of torture as the excessive use of cruelty. Furthermore, article 126/ penalties, which is considered to be the legal base for the crime of torture, ignores psychological torture to the defendant and its grave results, and the usage of annoying means during investigations which is considered one of the forms of torture, as well as the torture of the defendants’ family; that article discards the respect to peoples’ humanity.

Finally, Abdeen has added that the main legal deficiencies is the result of the absence of an inclusive and viable definition of the crime of torture that encompasses all physical and psychological harm that are inflicted upon a person in order to terrorize him/her, or to obtain some information. In addition, it’s of the utmost necessity to have an integral legal system to combat the crime of torture as the case with the crimes of drugs and rape, also this law should encompass deterrent penalties and punishments for the crime of torture, the existence of real and practical procedures to prove the occurrence of the crime by the victim, and the state should abandon the protection of the perpetrators especially policemen as they are considered the larger category who commit the crime of torture.

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