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9 April 2009

Egypt: Police officers who tortured must be kept off duty

The possible reinstatement of two policemen found guilty of torture would be an implicit encouragement from the Egyptian authorities for all police officers to use torture, Amnesty International said today as it urged Egypt’s Interior Minister not to allow this.

“The reinstatement of these two policemen would send a negative signal about the Egyptian authorities’ commitment to the fight against torture of prisoners, as allegations of torture and other ill-treatment in Egypt’s police stations and detention centres remain rife,” said Malcolm Smart, director of the Middle East and North Africa Programme. “It would be wholly inappropriate for either of these two men to be reinstated in the police or appointed to other official bodies, as well as law enforcement or security forces branches.”

Islam Nabih and Reda Fathi were released late March after serving a reduced sentence of three years each for the unlawful detention, torture and rape of bus driver Emad al-Kabir while he was in their custody in 2006. Both were also convicted of obtaining and distributing materials harmful to public moral and decency in connection with their filming of their rape of Emad al-Kabir on a mobile phone camera, and their public circulation of this film in order to further degrade and humiliate him.

Amnesty International is alarmed at recent media and government reports suggesting that Islam Nabih was going to return to active police duties in Asyout soon.

The reinstatement into the police of officers who have a clearly established record of torture and other ill-treatment of a prisoner in their custody would run counter to international human rights law and standards, which provide that state officials who commit gross human rights violations, including torture, should be dismissed from their positions, Amnesty International said.

Amnesty International welcomed the prosecution of Islam Nabih and Reda Fathi as an affirmation of the Egyptian authorities’ commitment to fight torture. The organization has been asking the Egyptian authorities for statistics about the number of torture complaints investigated in the recent years and the number of police officers who were tried and convicted for committing acts of torture. Amnesty International has not received a response to date.

Region Middle East And North Africa
Country Egypt
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