By Mahitab Assran
Following former president Mohamed Morsi’s ouster from power, the Egyptian Organisation for Human Rights (EOHR) has called for a change in both legislation and the general attitude in the security apparatus toward torture.
Hafez Abou-Seada, the head of EOHR, said that he is calling for adjustments to Articles 126, 129 and 280 in the 2012 constitution regarding the prohibition of torture and their punishments in the new constitution to be written during the transitional period. According to the constitution, the articles state that those [from the police force] who are found guilty of committing torture are to be sentenced to a minimum of one year in prison or an EGP 200 fine.
Abou-Seada also said that EOHR is asking Egypt to sign the UN’s convention against torture and abide by its rules in addition to investigating previous torture incidents and punishing those responsible. Abou-Seada also stressed the importance of allowing Egyptians to contact the UN and report torture, and for the UN and other international organisations to be permitted to come to Egypt to investigate and witness “what really happens.”
On 26 June, the EOHR published a report called Torture and Killings Under the Second Republic. The report argued that the police and security forces have not changed the way they deal with Egyptian citizens “contrary to popular belief,” stating that “the policing practices are still the same, [and they still] depend on torturing the accused to obtain confessions, or even for revenge.”
The report also denounced Morsi’s failure to act against police torture.
The report issued statistics regarding incidence of torture and killings in recent years. From 2000 to 2011 there were a total of 1051 cases of torture, 694 of which occurred in 2011 alone. In addition, 165 cases of torture and 17 deaths were recorded in 2012 under the presidency of Morsi.
The report notes that torture is already illegal under both Egyptian law and the international treaties signed by the country, such as the Inter-American Convention to Prevent and Punish Torture.