24 November 2022
The undersigned human rights organizations condemn the Third Circuit of the Terrorism Criminal Court for issuing unduly harsh sentences, up to life imprisonment, against nine defendants, and 15-year sentences against thirteen other defendants in Case no. 95 of 2022 State Security Court, known as the El-Salam Station Case. The court further ordered all the accused to be added to the “list of terrorists” and placed under police surveillance for five years. The organizations call for a re-trial in of the defendants in this case before an independent court wherein they would be investigated as potential victims of torture, and for the perpetrators to be investigated with a view towards enforcing accountability for the commission of this crime.
The case dates back to 24 January 2022, when a newspaper published a report based on video clips of prisoners detained under criminal charges at el-Salam First Police Station (East Cairo), who alleged that they were tortured by police officers. The video clips showed detainees hanging from their arms, and traces of bruising on the bodies of others. The detainees said that these injuries were inflicted on them by officers and officials who assaulted them at the police station.
Following the report’s release, the Ministry of Interior issued a statement denying the authenticity of the videos. The Public Prosecution issued a statement that aligned itself with the Ministry of Interior’s account, claiming that the allegations of torture were untrue and that the detainees inflicted the injuries on themselves. The Public Prosecution ordered the police, themselves the subject of the torture allegation, to prepare investigations into the incident. And rather than investigating the detainees as potential victims of a crime, the Supreme State Security Prosecution charged them with joining and financing a terrorist group, broadcasting false news, and possessing two recording and broadcasting devices (two mobile phones) to record and broadcast false news.
The defendants have endured grave violations of due process, ranging from enforced disappearance, torture, and intimidation, to being prevented from communicating with a lawyer or being represented by a lawyer during the initial stages of the trial. A child defendant in the case was detained with adults, in violation of Child Law no. 126 of 2008. Other violations include the stalling of the Forensic Medicine Authority in examining the effects of torture and matching its statement to the police investigations, while the terrorism circuit court rejected defense requests related to hearing the testimony of the police officer and the chief of investigations accused of torturing detainees.
The judiciary, led by the Public Prosecution, has a record of bias in favor of alleged torturers over victims; often obfuscating the facts surrounding incidents with the aim of promoting impunity for perpetrators, especially when the perpetrators are police and other state, security or prison officials. The Public Prosecution and the Ministry of Interior were involved in concealing the truth and circumstances surrounding the disappearance and torture of economist Ayman Hadhoud, until his death last May; Ayman’s case was closed without any investigation conducted.
The undersigned organizations renew their demand for a re-trial of the defendants and an investigation of the defendants as victims of torture, and for an end to the widespread use of terrorism laws to prosecute whistle-blowers of human rights violations. We further demand that alleged perpetrators of torture be brought to investigation, and for the Public Prosecution Office to stop enabling impunity for the crime of torture.
- Egyptian Front for Human Rights (EFHR)
- Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies (CIHRS)
- El Nadeem Center
- The association for freedom of thoughts and expression (AFTE)
- Egyptian Commission for Rights and Freedoms (ECRF)
- The freedom Initiative (FI)
- Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR)