Last week, Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated MP Farid Ismail petitioned Prime Minister Ahmed Nazif and Interior Minister Habib al-Adli regarding a case that neatly illustrates why the "trust us" line doesn't work. Security forces arrested five kids, some of them as young as 15, from the al-Sharqiyya governorate in the Nile Delta on suspicion of belonging to Islamic Jihad following the 1997 terrorist attacks in Luxor. In the 10 years since, Ismail said, magistrates have ordered their release 125 times each, saying there was no evidence to keep them detained. No matter. A decade later, they are still in prison.
Now, I'm in favor of locking up people who want to blow up innocent people. And I can understand that in the wake of a big terrorist attack, you might want to err on the side of caution. But you've got to do it in a way that ensures that you get the right people, and that lets innocent people caught up in the sweep get back to their lives, ideally with compensation (though how do you compensate someone who's spent a week with electrodes on his tongue, nipples, and genitals? Mawlish doesn't quite cover it). This is why the legal protections are so important. I have no idea if these five are innocent, but 125 release orders (times five is what? 625) from magistrates who have seen all the evidence strongly suggests that they are.
If the good people working for Egypt's stability and security won't respect what slender legal protections exist today, how are we supposed to "trust them" when those legal protections are gone?
Right. Apologies for the rant, but this is a particularly outrageous case.
(RSF/IFEX) - Reporters Without Borders has called for the immediate release of arrested human rights activist Ibrahim Zoro, who regularly posts material on foreign-based opposition websites. It noted that two other people were in prison in Syria for posting similar material. It said the state security service, whose agents arrested Zoro on 5 April 2007 in Damascus, were "as always, acting quite illegally" and his family had not been told why he was picked up or where he was being held. "It is more like a kidnapping than an arrest," the worldwide press freedom organisation said. Zoro, who belongs to Syria's Kurdish minority, was helping to organise a seminar called "The Philosophy of Lies." He has posted many articles in Arabic on websites such as the blog Tharway and Mengos. Zoro, 47, has already spent seven years in prison, from 1987 to 1994, for belonging to the Syrian Communist Party. He is a member of the Committee for the Defence of Democracy, Freedom and Human Rights in Syria. Journalist Muhened Abdulrahman and writer Habib Saleh are also in prison in Syria for posting material online.
- Abd al-Fattah Murad will likely not be the judge in Abd al-Karim Sulaiman's appeal. This would too nice a present to the defense team, who are engaged in a separate legal dispute with the judge and so could clearly not get a fair trial from him. If Judge Abd al-Fattah is on the stand next session, we can all start believing the rumors that the government never wanted to imprison Kareem in the first place. Or we should all be very scared because the government will have dropped its last shred of shame.
- The only source for the suit's existence remains Egypt's finest, Rose al-Yusef. Lawyers have had no communication from the courts. A scanned copy of the Rose al-Yusef article is here. It's possible the lawsuit won't progress, and that this article (in a paper whose meager readership consists mostly of those who have a professional interest in trying to guess what Security is thinking) is another shot over the bow. [Update: AFP cites "a judicial source" and "sources" to confirm the story]
- His honor reportedly has very good wasta in the Interior Ministrybut less so in the Judge's Club. It's unclear whether he has the clout to get the government to change its current policy of not censoring the Internet.
Citizen [...], known by [...] was subject to severe beating and use of electricity on sensitive parts of his body at the state security intelligence headquarters in the city of [...] by the hands of officer [...]. [...] had been arrested in the early hours of the [...] from his house in the district of [...] in the city of [...], Gharbeyya governorate in the Delta of Egypt. [...] woke up at about 2 a.m. upon a heavy knocking at his door. As soon as he opened the door the police was all over the house. [...] asked for the prosecutor's permit to search the house, upon which the state security officer reached into his pocket, got out a small piece of paper, which [...] did not read, returned it back into his pocket again and said: "This is the permit. And even if there is no permit, I shall detain you as I wish". The police then took [...] down into the police car, then went up again in arms to search his house causing panic to his wife and children. The police took school books and botebooks of the children, a praying carpet, a computer which was searched by the officer himself at the state security office in violation of the law which states that examination of a computer should be carried out by the technical office upon an order of the prosecution. As soon as [...] arrived in the state security office in [...] he was beaten, slapped and kicked all over his body by officer [...] and [...]. Then [...] stripped [...] of all his clothes, forced him to the floor on his back with his hands tied and eyes blindfolded. He then put a chair between his legs and used a baton to pressure sensitive parts of his body. While [...] was screaming of pain, officer [...] was laughing and saying: "I shall make you lose your manhood totally. You will sleep with your wife with no difference between the two of you!!" After 20 hours of torture, [...] was referred to the prosecution charged of membership of the Muslim Brotherhood. His file was registered as administrative case no. [...]. [...]'s lawyer has filed a complaint to the public prosecutor's officer and the National Council for Human Rights.Perhaps the formal complaint with the prosecutor's office makes this fair game for public distribution, but absent confirmation, and given Imad al-Kabir's momentary retraction of his story in the face of intimidation after the details of his case were publicized, I'm erring on the side of caution. It's rare for members of the Muslim Brotherhood to face torture these days. Those who do tend to be young, rank-and-file members from the governorates, like this unfortunate man from Gharbeyya. More senior members, and members from Cairo, now generally say they are not physicaly abused in custody. Update: Hossam reports on another Kifaya anti-torture initiative here.
Heavy fighting has subsided in Chad's capital after breaking out at dawn, between government troops and rebels trying to overthrow the president. A BBC correspondent in N'Djamena said gunfire and shelling began at dawn and lasted for some two hours. Speaking on the radio, President Idriss Deby said government forces had destroyed a small rebel column that attempted to enter the capital. He said that government troops were in "complete control" of N'Djamena. Only sporadic gunfire could be heard around the capital following his announcement.More...