EOHR concludes the fourth workshop of “How to Combat the Crime of Torture in Egypt.”

October 30th, 2013 by Editor

EOHR has concluded the fourth workshop on Wednesday, 30 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.

Noha Shehata, Political researcher at EOHR, has initiated second day of the workshop by discussing the “the role of journalism and media in combating the crime of torture”. She has stressed that media is considered one of the advanced communication means to transfer the useful information to the public quickly in an audio/ visual way and with a sense of pleasure, also media channels have created something of an active political dialogue on all social, economic, and political levels. What has fostered the above stated dialogue is that media channels have played the role of opposition to the governing political systems in some Arab states; this has pushed political discussions to a high level and has opened the horizons in front of the expressing opinion in all levels.

Shehata has further added that media means play a vital role in strengthening the political culture for the public and has provided necessary information of all important cases that are raised in the political arena; hence forming a united public opinion concerning a certain issue, as the media play a vital role that can’t be denied in the political socialization process for the citizens. Also, the media contribute in raising public awareness about the various dimensions of raised issues, and at the same time give the public the time to participate in solving critical issues; as the media is the reflecting mirror of the people and at the same time the media is considered a melting pot for forming and melting the public opinion, as well as readjusting the publics’ priorities.

In addition, Shehata has stressed that television is one of the most dangerous means of the media; as it positively affect the cultural process besides raising the public’s awareness. The T.V. provides the public with sufficient information and knowledge, skills and experience, affect education as an effective mean with positive outcomes to increase the knowledge of the spectators, opens the public’s eyes on various experiences, and explains many blur issues that can be difficult for the public to perceive.

Shehata has also stressed that the television is a visual art; as a picture is worth a thousand words, hence television is more important than the printed media. People who have suffered from torture in police stations and inside prison can share their stories with journalism, but it would be more effective if their stories are seen on television screens; as people will feel the depth of their suffering, because face expressions are more significant than written words, face expressions reflect the inner pain and break down of torture victims; thus the role of the visual media is vital in exposing the horrible crime of torture and the horrendous human rights violations inflicted upon the mere citizens. For a case in point about the importance of the visual media, in 1984 a Kenyan photographer and broadcaster had succeeded in capturing television snapshots about the tragedy of the drought and famine victims in Ethiopia that had been an alarm to the rest of the world to act immediately towards that tragedy. Thus, visual media can stir state’s apparatuses to combat and eliminate the crime of torture, as well as human rights violations; as capturing the suffering drawn on the faces of the victims can move mountains and this can be made via visual media.

Afterwards, Ahmed Abd Al-Hafeez, Attorney at Cassation and EOHR’s Vice-President, has discussed the third topic in the workshop entitles “ The role of civil society in deterring the crime of torture” , as he has stressed that civil society is an independent community to a great extent and it’s not liable to direct monitoring of the state. Civil society is distinguished by independence, natural regulation, individual and collective spirit of initiative, voluntary work, enthusiasm to serve public interest, defending the rights of minorities, and though it gives the utmost importance to the individual citizen, it’s not a society characterized by individuality, but it’s a collective society through a network of cooperation amongst a wide range of institutions.

Abd Al- Hafez has further added that with the progress of torture means, the work of civil society and human rights have per contra progressed. Therefore, NGOs should take the initiative to promptly inform the investigation authority about any incident of torture, and to provoke the Attorney General to carry on his legal role to inform immediately in the case of the detention of a defendant or a suspect and to prove that with all possible means, whether through requests or private meetings with members of public prosecution. Also, following up the investigation to prove torture incidents whether through public prosecution or/and forensic is important; to ensure that no security intervention can lead to the shift in investigations.

ABd Al Hafeez has proposed some mechanisms to strengthen the role of civil society in combating the crime of torture through monitoring the commitment of the Egyptian Government with human rights agreements that monitor and guarantee the commitment of the authorities with the execution of their international obligations of human rights, this is achieved through field monitoring of human rights violations by international committees, as well as preparing periodical reports a about the situation of human rights in the member states that have ratified international human rights agreements. This is applicable also in Egypt; as monitoring committees issue periodical reports about the situation of human rights in Egypt and submit these reports to the specialized committees within the UN, as these reports detect reality and it’s in contract with the often false repots presented by the Egyptian Government to the UN.

Moreover, Abd Al Hafeez has discussed the second mechanism, that is media campaigns. Media campaigns aim at mobilizing the national and international public opinion, and raise the awareness of the dangerous and negative effects of the crime of torture and the usage of violence against citizens. This mechanism is a kind of a peaceful form of pressure on authorities in order to stop those violations, and these campaigns can be used in a certain case to support a certain official or person in order to face the authorities and those who tortured him to retain his right and regain his dignity.

Finally, Tarek Zaghlol, Executive Director of EOHR, has distributed the certificated on the workshop participants, and he has stressed that journalists and lawyers are the defenders of human rights that are compatible with international agreements and conventions, therefore they must know how to deal with and face the crime of torture in order to defend the victims.

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