Amnesty International, Amnesty International Report 1995 - Egypt, 1 January 1995, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/3ae6aa027c.html [accessed 11 December 2013]
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Dozens of lawyers and a number of journalists were arrested and detained as prisoners of conscience. Thousands of suspected members or sympathizers of banned Islamist groups were detained under state of emergency legislation. Some were held without charge or trial; others, almost all civilians, received grossly unfair trials before military courts. Torture of political detainees was systematic; at least one person reportedly died as a result. The security forces killed at least eight people in circumstances suggesting they may have been extrajudicially executed. At least 39 people were sentenced to death and at least 31, including 17 sentenced in previous years, were executed. Armed opposition groups committed grave human rights abuses, including deliberate and arbitrary killings of civilians. The state of emergency, which was introduced in 1981 (see previous Amnesty International Reports), was extended in April for a further three years. Thousands of suspected members or sympathizers of banned Islamist militant groups were held in administrative detention without charge or trial during the year under emergency regulations. Violent clashes, particularly in Upper Egypt and, to some extent, in Cairo, the capital, continued between armed opposition groups and the security forces. Bomb and firearm attacks were carried out by banned Islamist groups, particularly al-Gamaa al-Islamiya (Islamic Group) and Gihad (Holy Struggle). The majority of those targeted were police and state security officers, including the Deputy Head of the State Security Investigations Department (SSI) who was killed in April. Civilians killed included at least six Egyptian Copts and four foreign tourists. Dozens of lawyers were arrested and held as prisoners of conscience. On 17 and 18 May, 36 lawyers were arrested after the security forces violently dispersed lawyers protesting over the death in custody of Abd al-Harith Mohammad Madani (see below). Among those detained were three members of the Bar Association's council: Mukhtar Nouh, Galal Saad and Khaled Badawi. The 36 were interrogated by the Qasr al-Nil Procuracy before being transferred to prison under 15-day detention orders. On 5 June, nine were released but 27 had their detention orders renewed. On 14 June, five other lawyers were detained, reportedly after attending a court hearing on behalf of the 27 lawyers still held. Two of the five, Gamal Abd al-Aziz Id and al-Sayyid Fathi al-Sayyid al-Naggar, worked for the Egyptian Organization for Human Rights. By 5 July all had been released except Muntasar al-Zayyat. The court ordered his release but he remained held in Istiqbal Tora Prison. In August the State Security Prosecutor ordered his detention for a further 45 days, reportedly on charges relating to involvement in an illegal organization, spreading false information and contacts with terrorists. These charges were reportedly based on Muntasar al-Zayyat's telephone conversations with members of local and international human rights organizations, journalists, and clients who had fled the country, which had been monitored over the previous 12 months. In October he was given another 45-day detention order; he was released on 5 December. A number of journalists were detained as prisoners of conscience during an intensified campaign of harassment against journalists working for opposition newspapers. Abd al-Sattar Abu Hussain, a journalist with al-Shaab (the People), the newspaper of the opposition Labour Party, which is close to the Muslim Brothers, a formally banned but tolerated Islamist movement, was arrested on 5 April. He was held in a military prison for three days and reportedly interrogated by the State Security Procuracy. On 30 April, after a grossly unfair trial before a military court, he was sentenced to one year's imprisonment for publishing, in June 1993, information about the armed forces. The offending article was apparently based on information already published in foreign newspapers circulating freely in Egypt. Abd al-Sattar Abu Hussain was released in early August, reportedly because of an intervention by the Minister of Defence. In December Adel Hussein, a journalist and the Secretary General of the Labour Party, was arrested, apparently for possession of leaflets issued by al-Gamaa al-Islamiya. He was interrogated by the State Security Procuracy and given a 15-day detention order. At the end of the year he remained held. Members of the Muslim Brothers were also held as possible prisoners of conscience. In August and September at least 90 members of this movement were detained. Most were arrested apparently for criticizing Egypt's hosting of the UN Conference on Population and Development in Cairo in September. It was not known if they were still detained at the end of the year. The Ministry of the Interior continued to serve new detention orders, often repeatedly, on detainees who had obtained court orders for their release. Hundreds of detainees had consequently been held for more than a year without charge or trial. For instance, Hassan al-Gharbawi Shehata, a lawyer (see Amnesty International Report 1994), remained in administrative detention, despite many court orders for his release and despite being acquitted at his trial in 1990. At least 150 people tried and acquitted by military courts in 1993 were still held under repeated administrative detention orders. Most of them were held incommunicado in the High Security Prison in Tora, following the Ministry of the Interior's ban on visits by families and lawyers introduced in December 1993. Among them was Abd al-Munim Gamal al-Din Abd al-Munim, a freelance journalist arrested in February 1993, who was acquitted by a military court in October 1993 (see Amnesty International Report 1994). He remained held in the High Security Prison at the end of the year. Dozens of civilians charged with membership of banned Islamist militant groups had their cases referred to military courts by order of President Hosni Mubarak. The procedures of these courts fell far short of international fair trial standards. The judges military officers were not independent. Defendants were denied adequate time to prepare their defence and had no right of appeal to a higher court. Before trial, defendants were routinely held in prolonged incommunicado detention and many were reportedly tortured to extract confessions. On 3 May, five civilians were executed after they were sentenced to death on 17 March by a military court. They were among 15 alleged members of Gihad accused of plotting to kill the Prime Minister, Dr Atef Sidqi. On 16 July the Supreme Military Court in Cairo sentenced five civilians to death in the case of 17 alleged members of Gihad who were charged with, among other things, attempting to assassinate the Minister of the Interior on 18 August 1993. The five were executed on 22 August. By the end of the year military courts had sentenced 21 people to death, including five in absentia, and 14 were executed. All death sentences passed by military courts are subject only to ratification by the President and review by the Military Appeals' Bureau, a non-judicial body. All death sentences were upheld by the Bureau. Torture of political prisoners continued to be systematic, particularly in police stations, the SSI headquarters in Cairo and SSI branches elsewhere in the country. Most commonly cited torture methods included beatings, electric shocks, suspension by the wrists or ankles, burning with cigarettes and psychological torture. Hundreds of complaints of torture were lodged with the Public Prosecutor's Office but received little or no response. No investigations were made public despite the establishment in November 1993 of a special unit within the Public Prosecutor's Office to investigate reports of torture. At least one person died in police custody apparently as a result of torture. Abd al-Harith Mohammad Madani, a lawyer, was arrested on 26 April and taken to the Giza branch of the SSI. He was reportedly tortured and as a result of the injuries sustained was taken to Qasr al-Aini hospital in Cairo early the next morning. He was reported to have died later that day, although his family apparently did not learn of his death until 6 May when they were ordered to collect his body from the morgue. The body was released in a sealed coffin under police guard. He was a member of the Bar Association and the Egyptian Organization for Human Rights, and had defended many Islamist political prisoners. The Minister of the Interior reportedly stated that Abd al-Harith Mohammad Madani had died following an asthma attack. However, a preliminary medical forensic report by the Public Prosecutor's Office allegedly recorded 17 injuries on various parts of the body. The final forensic report had not been made public by the end of the year. In June the authorities announced they would set up an investigation into Abd al-Harith Mohammad Madani's death, but no further details were made available. At least eight people were killed by the security forces in circumstances suggesting they may have been extrajudicially executed. On 1 February, seven alleged members of al-Gamaa al-Islamiya were reportedly shot dead by SSI officers in the Cairo district of al-Zawiya al-Hamra. Eye-witnesses saw SSI officers dragging a man who then led the officers to a flat containing the seven men. Witnesses said they heard a short burst of gunfire. This contradicted the police version, which stated that the seven people had opened fire at the officers and that the shooting lasted over three hours. At the end of the year no investigation into the incident was known to have taken place. On 25 April Amin Shafiq Hamam, a student at Asyut University and an alleged member of a banned Islamist group, was reportedly arrested in his room on the university campus by SSI officers and taken by car to a nearby village where he was killed. It appeared that no investigation into his death had been initiated. The dramatic increase in the use of the death penalty continued. At least 39 people were sentenced to death: 21 of them, including five in absentia, for acts of violence including murder, at least 16 for murder, and two for drug-trafficking. At least 31 people were executed: of these, 14 had been sentenced by military courts in 1994 and had no right of appeal. Seventeen others had been convicted of murder and drug-trafficking in previous years. Among them was Abd al-Shafi Ahmad Ibrahim, who was executed in February after being sentenced to death by a state security court on 30 December 1993 for killing the writer Farag Foda (see Amnesty International Report 1994). Armed opposition groups committed gross human rights abuses, including deliberate and arbitrary killings of civilians. In February gunmen, who were allegedly members of Gihad, shot dead Sayyid Ahmad Yahya, the owner of a car showroom, as well as one of his employees, a customer and a guard. The killings took place in Shibin al-Qanatir, a small town north of Cairo. Sayyid Ahmad Yahya was a key prosecution witness in a case against 15 alleged members of Gihad charged with plotting to kill the Prime Minister. In March, six Copts, including two priests, were shot dead in two separate incidents in southern Egypt by armed gunmen alleged to be members of al-Gamaa al-Islamiya. The group was also reported to have been responsible for attacks on buses and boats carrying tourists which claimed the lives of four foreign nationals. Amnesty International appealed repeatedly to President Hosni Mubarak to commute all death sentences. It called for the immediate and unconditional release of all prisoners of conscience held during the year. The organization urged an end to trials of civilians before military courts and called for all political prisoners to be given fair trials. Amnesty International also criticized the long-term detention without charge or trial of political detainees. It called for the immediate implementation of safeguards to stop torture and ill-treatment of detainees, and for urgent, thorough and impartial investigations into all allegations of torture and extrajudicial executions. In April an Amnesty International delegation visited Egypt and met government officials to discuss human rights issues. The officials denied that there were systematic human rights violations in Egypt, saying that incidents may have occurred but these did not represent government policy. The delegation was refused a meeting with leading officials from the ssi. In September Amnesty International published a report, Egypt: Human rights defenders under threat. In an 18-page response to the report, the authorities stated that lawyers and journalists had been held for either transgressing the law or because they were connected with banned Islamist militant groups. They also referred to the attacks by armed opposition groups 70 policemen were killed in 1993 and stated that the fight against "terrorism" was conducted with respect for the law. They maintained that military trials were fair. The response failed to address specific cases raised by Amnesty International or to indicate that measures would be taken to prevent or investigate human rights violations. In April Amnesty International submitted information about its concerns regarding torture in Egypt to the UN Committee against Torture, pursuant to Article 20 of the Convention against Torture. Amnesty International strongly condemned the deliberate and arbitrary killings of civilians by armed opposition groups and called on them to abide by international humanitarian standards and put an end to such killings.