Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Adly orders the security services to identify tortured woman

The Egyptian interior minister, Habib al Adly has ordered the security services to identify the woman, allegedly being subjected to torture.

The two independent newspapers, Masry al youm and Fajr run the story of the torture case of the woman with some connection to a murder case(she confesses on the video), filmed with a celluar phone camera and posted on the internet by journalist/activist /blogger Wael Abbas on their front pages yesterday together with a still from the video.

This is the second time in two months that mobile phone videos of alleged torture cases has led to further investigations into the specific cases. In November, the case of microbus driver Imad al Kabir was displayed on the internet and subseqently led to the arrest of two policemen. The trial is expected to begin in March.

During the last six months or so, there has been at least 5 different videos, showing police abuse towards ordinary citizens, at police stations, accentuating what human rights groups has documented for years, that torture is a routine procedure in perfectly normal cases, substituting in depth investigations, in order to get quick results. There is a culture of torture, which has been well documented over the years by Egyptian and international human rights groups in cases like the Kosheh and Sarando investigations for instance, or an issue that has recieved a lot of attention lately , the question of street children.

The mobile phone videos can make a difference in Egyptian public awareness about torture in general and also if the purpertaders are brought to trial and convicted, it proves that the little man has a chance against the system that silently allows and aproves of this. It´s a small, but important step in trying to alter the culture of torture and impunity, toward a culture of transparency and accountability.

I will end by qouting President Mubarak, in his first public comment on the hanging of the former iraqi President Saddam Hussein, asked specifically about the mobile phone video film showing the hanging, ¨It´s barbaric and revolting¨.

Yes it is barbaric and revolting, to see citizens being abused by the very people, that are supposed to represent the institution that is in charge of upholding the law, unfortunately this is only the tip of the iceperg, of something that is common practice.

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