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The Egyptian Organization for Human Rights

Seventh EOHR report on torture in police stations in Egypt

Police excesses and the difficulty of obtaining evidence

11 February 1999

Today, Wednesday 10 February 1999, the Egyptian Organization for Human
Rights (EOHR) issues its second report of 1999 under the title "Torture -
Police excesses and the difficulty of obtaining evidence." This is the
seventh EOHR report on torture, ill-treatment and other excesses committed
by members of the police against citizens in police stations. These reports
are issued in the context of EOHR's ongoing campaign against torture. 

The report reviews around 40 cases of torture of citizens in more than 15
police stations in various Egyptian governorates, from Aswan in the south
to Alexandria in the north. In addition, it presents two cases of death in
police stations on which there is strong evidence that they may have
occurred as a result of torture. The first of these took place in the Maadi
police station and involved Gamal Abdalla Mohamed; the second occurred in
Kalyoub police station and the victim was Shaaban Mohamed Abdel Gawad.

The report points out to the many obstacles that hamper any attempts to
prove the occurrence of torture. These obstacles have been divided into the
following categories:  legal obstacles related to the provisions which
provide protection for policemen accused of the practice of torture;
procedural obstacles concerning the procedures necessary to prove the
occurrence of torture, mainly among which are forensic reports; obstacles
related to victims' statements; obstacles resulting from the pressure
exerted by the perpetrators on the victims; and lastly, obstacles resulting
from the disregard shown by the competent bodies towards the complaints
made by human rights organizations on incidents of torture. 

Perhaps of fundamental importance in this report is that all the cases
included involve ordinary citizens who do not belong to any political trend
and are not accused in political cases. They were all subjected to torture
in connection with criminal cases.  The report also explains the work
mechanisms of the police in their search for suspects in criminal cases,
and the use of torture as a main method to obtain confessions as the
ultimate evidence. This has led in many cases, some which are mentioned in
the report, to the referral to court of innocent persons based on their
confessions for crimes they did not commit. Thus, when they deny their
confessions in front of the court, confessions become the weakest evidence.
Torture does not only reflect the disregard shown by the security bodies
for the value of human beings, but also a weakness in the work mechanisms
of these bodies when investigating a crime and collecting evidence.

The report relies mainly on the findings of EOHR missions, police records
and reports, forensic reports, witnesses' testimonies, complaints received
and verified by the EOHR, as well as on rulings made by the Egyptian
judiciary condemning many policemen in cases of torture. 

The report is divided into three parts:

The first part reviews the legal and procedural obstacles faced by the
victims of torture, which lead to the perpetrators being granted impunity
and open the door for the repeated use of torture in police stations and
other places of detention. This part also points out to the serious issue
of the double standard of judicial rulings with respect to torture crimes.
One case may be administratively closed by the public prosecution, thus
denying the victim the right to file a criminal suit. At the same time, the
civil judiciary may issue a ruling ordering compensation for a civil
claimant, thus proving the occurrence of torture in a case that was
previously closed by the prosecution.

Part two includes cases of torture and ill-treatment in police stations
monitored by the EOHR in 1998 through the complaints it received,
fact-finding mission reports and court rulings. In this part, the EOHR
reviews in detail two cases in which the accused confessed to murder crimes
they had not committed after being subjected to severe torture. It later
transpired that no crime had actually taken place. The court referred the
case to the public prosecution to take the necessary steps. Part two ends
with cases of death in police stations. 

Part three includes previous EOHR recommendations and stresses their
importance in the context of the organization's campaign against the use of

It should be noted that the cases included in this report are not all the
cases of torture that took place in police stations in Egypt, but only
those which the EOHR was able to document. They, however, highlight a major
fact, i.e. that torture is practiced in police stations in Egypt from Aswan
in the south to Alexandria in the north. 

Finally, the EOHR issues this report on torture and ill-treatment in police
stations in Egypt in the hope that it will spur civil society institutions,
political parties, and intellectuals to work together to stop the
violations and excesses faced by citizens in places of detention, and to
urge the Egyptian government to take prompt and serious steps to stop these
violations which threaten human rights in Egypt.

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This document is published online by Derechos Human Rights. Derechos works against violations to human rights and humanitarian law all over the world.