Press Release

June 3, 1997

Torture and violations of Egypt's Constitution and laws in al-Waili police station

CHRLA has received complaints from Khaled Hagag Sayed's family expressing their worry about the possibility of his being tortured at al-Waili police station after he was arrested at 2 a.m. on May 31, 1997, for suspected car theft.

The Center's lawyers visited al-Waili police station, but they were not allowed to see Khaled or be provided with any official information from the concerned officers. Meanwhile, some citizens who happened to be at the police station at that time told the lawyers that Khaled was being detained at the station, and that they had seen him being suspended and exposed to a variety of forms of torture.

In response to this, on the same day of Khaled's detention and torture, CHRLA's lawyers filed an official complaint with al-Waili prosecutor's office. Unfortunately, the chief prosecutor did nothing, and refused to visit al-Waili police station to check the case himself. He merely called the station, and then informed the lawyers that Khaled would be referred later to Qasr al-Nil or al-Duqqi prosecutors' offices. The Center filed another three official complaints with the minister of the interior, the public prosecutor and West Cairo's public attorney for the prosecution, urging them to investigate the information the Center had obtained.

As Khaled had not been referred by the police station to the prosecutor-a violation of the Penal Code, which requires the accused to be referred to the prosecution within 24 hours of his detention-the Center's lawyers went again to al-Waili prosecutor's office and accompanied the chief prosecutor to al-Waili police station, but by 8 p.m. Khaled had already been referred to al-'Agouza prosecutor.

During the investigations attended by the Center's lawyer, Khaled stated that he had been tortured, suspended by his wrists, beaten by hand, foot and electric wire and exposed to electric shocks on sensitive parts of his body.

The prosecutor registered the injuries appearing on Khaled's body, which included injured and swollen wrists, black scratches on the back and shoulder, swellings and scratches on the right foot and on the upper part of the left knee. 'Agouza's prosecutor decided to refer Khaled to the legal physician to be medically examined before the he could continue his investigations.

Unfortunately, those involved at al-Waili police station tried to hide their crime and, failing to abide by the prosecutor's decision, they had the victim examined by al-Waili's health inspector, who, at their behest, issued a medical report detailing only superficial injuries and grazes.

In this respect, the CHRLA expresses its appreciation of al-'Agouza prosecutor's stand against al-Waili police station's fraudulent behavior, in that the prosecutor decided yesterday to refer the victim again to the legal physician at al-'Agouza prosecutor's office this morning to check all of his injuries.

CHRLA condemns the torture of Khaled Hagag, as it is blatant violation of Egypt's international commitments, which include ratification of the International Convention against Torture. Moreover, Khaled's detention procedure has violated Article 41 of the Constitution, which forbids the arrest of people without obtaining permission from the public prosecution or the investigating judge (except when suspects are caught in flagrante delicto). Also, the Center would like to point out the disregard of al-Waili's police for the protection afforded detained people by the Constitution and the Penal Code, which require suspects to be referred to the prosecution within two hours of being detained. By torturing the victim, they have also violated Clause 42 of the Constitution, which states that detained citizens should be well treated, their dignity should be protected and that hurting them physically or psychologically is absolutely prohibited.

The Center reaffirms that the Egyptian authorities should take serious measures in investigating the violations committed by al-Waili police station and prosecute all involved as both a punishment and a deterrent.

CHRLA believes that the authorities' wish to improve their image in the field of human rights cannot be attained with their persistent denial of torture cases, their masking and disregarding such violations, and their slackening of investigations into them.

Instead, such an improvement can only be obtained through the application of a whole set of procedures, first of which is to have clean and objective investigations in all cases of violations committed by the security services. The public prosecutors should perform their duties through regular inspections of police station jails, and making any violation in which police are proved to be involved in torturing people a criminal case. Also, it is essential that the ministry of the interior should conduct administrative investigations into the violations committed.

The Center reiterates that the government and its authorities' passivity in dealing with such kinds of violations is considered by the security officers as a green light, giving them the right to torture citizens and abuse the Constitution, law and human rights.

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