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Amnesty International slams Egypt's corrosive system of detention

Report released today damns the practices implemented by Egypt's security forces against civilians 'for years' before the revolution and accuses the army of continuing the abusive trend

Dina Ezzat, Wednesday 20 Apr 2011
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“Egyptians must see justice done for the human rights abuses of the past," stated a report issued this morning by Amnesty International (AI).

In its close to 90-page report, Time for Justice: Egypt's Corrosive System of Detention, AI calls for the immediate establishment of an independent inquiry into human rights abuses committed by the State Security Investigations (SSI) for years before the January 25 Revolution.

"Under the cover of the state of emergency, President (sic) Mubarak’s state security forces were for years allowed to commit gross violations without fear of scrutiny or punishment," the report states.

The report comes less than 24 hours after an independent national fact-finding committee on the violations of political and human rights committed during the first days of the revolution.

Although it covers a much wider scope, the AI report is also is an incriminating document of the systematic mode of coercion of citizens and abuse of their rights.

“This is a moment for fundamental change,” the report states. It demands there be "immediate concrete steps from the authorities so that those responsible for serious human rights violations are held to account.”

AI said it is willing to make its archive available for Egyptian authorities "to assist with an investigation," especially in relation to the violations for which it holds the SSI responsible.

According to AI, the fact that the SSI was dissolved under intense public pressure should not close the file on the violations in which its officers were involved, as has been proven by several investigations, including those of AI researchers.

The report goes as far as looking into the army’s handling of political demonstrations in the weeks after Mubarak stepped down on 11 February. It notices "the continuing use of torture, arbitrary detention, trials of civilians before military courts and repression of freedom of expression by authorities."

It details how after "the army violently cleared Tahrir Square of demonstrators on 9 March," women protesters told its researchers that they "were beaten, given electric shocks, subjected to strip searches, then forced to submit to ‘virginity checks’ and threatened with prostitution charges."

The organisation’s report is largely based on three fact-finding trips to Egypt by its delegates in early 2009 and 2010 as well over the end of that year. An Amnesty International delegation was also in Egypt between January and March 2011.

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