Egypt's interior ministry lashes at critical news report

Ahram Online , Sunday 19 Apr 2015

The privately-owned Al-Masry Al-Youm newspaper published a report criticising police practices, citing citizens who say they are worse than before 2011

Egyptian police
Egyptian riot police (File photo: Reuters)

Egypt’s interior ministry said it would take “legal action” against what it said was an “unprofessional” news report in a private daily criticising police practices, in a statement it released on Sunday.

Al-Masry Al-Youm (AMAY) daily published on Sunday a seven-page series of reports titled “The Police: Martyrs and Sins… Holes in the Official Uniform” highlighting what it described as the “coercive and arrogant” practices of police.

The ministry said, however, it remains committed to “serving the people under the rule of law."  

The reports in AMAY address torture in police stations and prisons, rape, bribery and how the ministry uses illiterate conscripts for “total obedience of orders” in the Central Security Forces. It also includes interviews with people saying the police have become worse than before the January 2011 uprising.

“Some officers think that one violation or incident of arrogance will do no harm, without knowing that their colleagues do alike. And all of them, without realisation, are rebuilding the barrier wall between the people and the authorities and are destroying what the 25 January and 30 June revolutions built,” the introductory report read.

In its report, however, AMAY also paid tribute to police victims of attacks and published reports with their families.

The interior ministry filed a complaint in October 2014 against an AMAY editor and a reporter over an unpublished report - that the paper announced in advance - claiming the country's 2012 presidential election was rigged. They were released later on bail.

In its statement on Sunday, the ministry said that this unpublished report and its aftermath was the “motive” behind the new reports.

Last week, El-Dostour newspaper also published a report that criticised the police, which was followed by the interior ministry arresting the responsible reporter soon after and filing a complaint against the paper.

Egyptian police have an infamous history of excessive violence. Local and international rights organisations have repeatedly called for a reform in its practices and to hold those involved accountable.

The police were one of the main reasons people revolted in January 2011. Revolutionaries chose 25 January – Police Day – to mark the start of their uprising.

Meanwhile, the interior ministry has maintained that it is committed to protecting human rights and implementing the rule of law.

Recently, several cases of alleged police violence were brought to court including the killing of a peaceful protestor and death of a lawyer in a police station.  

Hundreds of police and army personnel have fallen victim to bomb attacks and shootings, allegedly carried out by Islamist militants, since the ouster of Islamist President Mohamed Morsi in 2013.


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