First Published: 2005-04-12

 
Egypt’s NSCHR calls for end to state of emergency
 

Egyptian government is under pressure from its own human rights body over torture claims, state of emergency.

 

Middle East Online

By Mona Salem - CAIRO

Alarming report

The Egyptian government has come under pressure from one of its own human rights groups over allegations of torture and calls for the lifting of the 24-year-old state of emergency.

The National Supreme Council for Human Rights, appointed by the government last year and subsidised by it, corroborated widespread allegations that government security forces engage in widespread torture of detainees.

In its first annual report, the NSCHR called for a "rapid end to the state of emergency" to permit participation in the constitutional referendum, the presidential election and parliamentary elections "in a neutral and secure atmosphere within the framework of common law."

President Hosni Mubarak recently called for a constitutional amendment to allow for a direct presidential election. The country is to elect a new president in September and a new parliament later in the year.

Government sources have already hinted that the state of emergency, imposed after the 1981 assassination of Mubarak's predecessor, Anwar Sadat, could be lifted for the elections.

The law gives the president sweeping military powers and prohibits the holding of demonstrations outside of university campuses.

"Egypt and the Arab world are going through a very delicate phase in security matters because of the propagation of violence and terrorism, but these phenomena should be combatted within the framework of common law," said the report.

The report was issued only a week after a bomber, said to be an Islamist student, struck a bazaar in old Cairo popular with tourists, killing two French nationals and an American.

It also calls for a revision of the penal code to conform with the international convention banning torture, signed by Egypt in 1986.

Independent human rights groups have long claimed that security forces and prison officials engage in torture, hanging people by their arms or legs, beating them or using electrical shocks.

The report gave credence to such claims, citing nine cases of people being submitted to "presumed practices of torture... during interrogation."

It also highlighted the death of a detained member of the outlawed but generally tolerated Muslim Brotherhood due to inadequate health care.

The NSCHR, which has sent its report to Mubarak and to the heads of both chambers of the National Assembly, also called for the release of prisoners who have completed their sentences.

The emergency law gives the interior ministry the discretion to keep people in jail beyond their sentences if they are deemed a "danger to public security."

Among these are two brothers jailed in connection with Sadat's assassination.

The report also criticises the increasing practice of preventive detention, under which people are held with charges.

Human rights groups say 2,400 people are being held under such circumstances.

 

Lebanese army launches anti-IS offensive on Syria border

Israel freezes implementation of settlement law

Police confirm Finland 'terror attack'

UN demands access to Yemen ports

Civilians stay on frontlines despite dangers in Raqa

Spain hunts suspects as IS claims attack

Turkey slams 'arrogant' German reaction to Erdogan poll call

Aid project helps Syria refugees feel at home in Jordan

Low-cost attacks a new reality for Europeans

Forces of Libya's Haftar say commander wanted by ICC in detention

Yemen rebels urged to free political commentator

Iranian footballer breaks silence over ban for playing Israelis

Erdogan meddles in German politics

IS fighters almost encircled in Syrian desert

For Israel, White House ties trump neo-Nazis and antisemitism

Saudi Arabia installing cranes at Yemen ports

13 dead, 100 injured in two Spanish seaside city attacks

Iran reform leader ends hunger strike

Van ploughs through pedestrians in Barcelona terror attack

13 killed in Barcelona van attack

Iraq acknowledges abuses in Mosul campaign

Netanyahu under fire for response to US neo-Nazism

Israel to free high-profile suspects in money laundering probe

Spanish police shut down jet-ski migrant smugglers

Syrian actress, activist Fadwa Suleiman dies in Paris

Israeli court extends detention for Islamic cleric over ‘incitement’

UAE to provide $15 million a month to Gaza

Sudan's Bashir 'satisfied' with Nile dam project

US-backed rebels say American presence in Syria to last ‘decades’

Tunisian clerics oppose equal inheritance rights for women

Israel strikes almost 100 Hezbollah arms convoys in 5 years

UN hopes for eighth round of Syria talks before year’s end

LONG READ: How Syria continues to evade chemical weapons justice

Civilians killed in US-led raids on Raqa

Qatari pilgrims begin flooding into Saudi by land

Turkey arrests 9 more journalists for alleged ‘Gulen links’

Iran’s Karroubi on hunger strike over 6-year house arrest

Saudi Arabia to restart work on Grand Mosque expansion

Algeria reshuffles cabinet, nominates three new ministers

Syria rebels lose heavyweight faction

ICC orders Mali ex-jihadist pay 2.7 m euros for Timbuktu destruction

Libya seeks to ‘organise’ NGOs carrying migrant rescue Ops

More than one million South Sudan refugees in Uganda

Beirut, Damascus pledge to boost economic ties

Two killed on Gaza-Egypt border