3. Crimes under military coup rule
Insaniya and HRM documented events through a team of researchers and testimonies of witnesses and medical documents verifying deaths and injuries.
Army and police forces and their hired thugs violated peaceful citizens’ right to life, simply because they hold different political views and turn out to liberty squares to express their rejection of the military coup. These forces killed at least 3000 and wounded 7235 others, while 341 remain missing and over 21,000 have been detained in various prisons. Some of them are killed in prison as a result of torture while in custody. During the hundred days of coup, more than 52 children were killed in peaceful sit-ins and protest marches.
The right to life is one of the basic human rights enshrined in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights in particular.
Furthermore, during the hundred days of coup, governing authorities and their security forces violated many articles of the international laws, treaties and conventions, including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Convention against Torture, and several others.
Crime of mass Extrajudicial Killings (Crime Against Humanity)
The use of live ammunition and internationally prohibited weapons (Grinov and anti-tank) to quell peaceful unarmed demonstrators, killing thousands of them, in attempts to break up the demonstrations and sit-ins, is a flagrant violation of the laws of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, ratified by Egypt on January 14, 1984, and the Convention against torture ratified on June 25, 1986 – particularly the right to life, one of the most important human rights. However, the Egyptian authorities continues to violate this right systematically and continuously until the present day.
In particular, the Egyptian authorities violated Articles 6, 7 and 10 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which guarantees everyone the right to life. In fact, what has happened is a crime of against humanity, in accordance with Article 7 of the Rome Statute, which stipulates that crimes against humanity are any act "whenever committed as part of a widespread or systematic attack directed against any civilian population, with knowledge of the attack "such as" willful killing, torture" or "persecution against any identifiable group or a specific population for political, customary, national, ethnic, cultural or religious reasons". It is evident that these practices were for political reasons and to punish those demonstrators who oppose the military coup. The killing is deemed deliberate because of the continuation of sniper-fire and continuous killing for a 12-hour period, because the injuries were fatal, directly in the head and chest, and because no safe rout or safe exit was made available to anyone to leave the square, as all entrances and exits were surrounded by the army and police forces.
Sniper-fire by army, police and Special Forces targeted demonstrators directly in the head and chest, which has been verified by medical reports and death certificates mentioned in afore-mentioned accounts of massacres and other events that are not covered by this report.
Direct sniper-fire caused the deaths of more than two thousand coup opponents, either directly or as a result of injuries. Coup security forces used live ammunition, pistols, birdshot, Kalashnikovs, M-16 rifles, sniper rifles, live bullets and Grinov machine guns.
Most of the dead were men in their twenties and thirties, women and children under eighteen, as well as paramedics, doctors, journalists, cameramen and anyone who tried to document these massacres.
Extra-judicial Killing by Burning
In addition to burning bodies of dead demonstrators, coup security forces burnt the injured to death during the dispersal of Rabaa Al-Adaweya and Nahda sit-ins and scooped away corpses with bulldozers. No-one knows where the bodies are until this very moment.
Extra-judicial Killing as a Result of Torture
Many people have been killed as a result of severe torture at the hands of military and police forces. Shawki Fouad Mohamed, 36, was killed after the Republican Guard Club massacre in July 8, 2013 following his arrest by the army along with 650 other demonstrators. His body was found two days later, on July 10, 2013 bearing signs of severe torture, including imprints of Army boots, electric-shock sticks, beatings with wires or whips, and various other bruises covering his entire body. Prosecution service investigations have not led to conviction of any person for this as yet.
It is worth mentioning that torture is carried out at the hands of the army, police and prison guards, and begins from the moment of arrest, during transport, inside police stations, even in prosecutors’ offices (to force confessions out of victims), and inside places of detention, in clear violation of the Convention Against Torture, which Egypt ratified in 1986.
Extra-judicial Killing as a Result of Neglect and Poor Health Care
Several detainees died inside prisons as a result of neglect, abuse, withholding medications, denial of medical care, or even referral to hospital due to deteriorating health. The United Nations’ Special Rapporteur on Torture considered neglect and poor medical care which leads to death a kind of torture.
On September 26, 2013, Dr. Safwat Khalil, 59, died inside prison in Mansoura after he was arrested from his home on August 14, 2013.
Dr. Safwat was a cancer patient and needed chemotherapy at a hospital. However, the prison administration refused to transfer him, in spite of a decision by the Criminal Court to release him. The prosecutor rejected the court’s decision, which led to the deterioration of Dr. Safwat’s health and then to his death in prison.
Abdul-Wahab Mohamed Abdel-Wahab, 44, a resident of the village of Akila, died in Minya (province) prison after suffering a diabetic coma as a result of medical negligence in military prison and refusal by the prison administration to allow his own medicine into prison for treatment.
Killing Detainees Under Torture
On Sunday August 18, 2013, coup security forces killed in prison 37 detainees arrested during Rabaa Al-Adaweya sit-in eviction massacre, and taken to Nasr City police stations 1 and 2, as the prosecution ordered their transfer to Abu-Zaabal prison in Dakahlia. The following day, the Interior Ministry issued three conflicting accounts of the incident, claiming that the detainees had tried to escape, that there had been an attempt to free them from prisoner transport vans, and finally (Abu-Zaabal prison administration claimed) that they tried to escape from inside the prison. Meanwhile, it was evident from photos, videos and eyewitness accounts regarding the bodies that the dead had been subjected to extreme torture, as some of them even had limbs burnt. There is no doubt that there were clear signs of torture on their bodies. The victims' lawyers filed a complaint to the public prosecutor, who failed to take any action to investigate this incident until the writing of this report.
Insaniya and HRM documented this blatant violation of a basic human right, namely the right to life, and demanded that the Egyptian military authorities stop these abuses, stressing that the current interim government must endeavor to start neutral and impartial investigations to identify and punish those responsible.
The Crime of Torture
Definition of the crime of torture: According to the Convention against Torture, ratified by Egypt in 1986, "The term "torture" means any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as obtaining from that person or of a third person, information or a confession, punishing him for an act he has committed or is suspected of having committed, he or a third person, or intimidating or coercing him or a third person – or when such pain or suffering for any reason based on discrimination of any kind, or at the instigation of or with the consent or acquiescence of a public official or other person acting in an official capacity. This does not include pain or suffering arising only from legal sanctions or inherent effects to such penalties or effects which are incidental to them".
In Egypt, the phenomenon of torture in prisons is not a new one. It was documented since the era of former President Gamal Abdel-Nasser, practiced the same way against detainees opposed to the authorities. It continued under Mubarak's rule and during the reign of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF), and during the rule of President Mohamed Morsi. Then, it suddenly exceeded all previous records in extremity right after the military coup and during the hundred days we documented.
Torture starts from the moment the accused is arrested. Most often, the arrest of a political opponent sets off a ‘torture party’ (as the police in Egypt calls it) immediately after his arrival at the police station. He gets what is known as "Al-Tashrifah" (the honorary reception) – a nightmare session of severe beatings, torture and humiliation in the police station and continues even in the prosecution service office, to forcibly extract confessions from him. Torture continues during the period of remand in prison by the police officers and the prison administration. Torture is also used to discipline detainees and prisoners. Currently, the strongest reasons for torture are: holding different opinions, political activity, belonging to the opposition, and rejection of the coup.
In many cases, of which we have already mentioned a few, severe torture led to death, blindness, paralysis, permanent disabilities and injuries such as broken ribs and bones.
Torture includes kicking, punching, slapping on the face, beating with heavy police batons, electric sticks and whips, as well as electric shocks, suspension in the air by the hands or feet, and rape.
In torturing detainees, coup forces do not differentiate between adults and minors. Everyone is placed together in the same prison cells in violation of international and domestic laws such as Articles 7 and 10 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
Another form of torture is to imprison a detainee in a ‘disciplinary room’ for days, weeks or months. A detainee may also be forced to stand in an extremely narrow room that does not allow him even to sit down, for long periods of time.
In Al-Gherbiniat Prison in Alexandria and the Appeals Prison in Cairo, 369 political prisoners were tortured after the administration opened the prison cells for criminal prisoners to attack politicians and demonstrators with bladed weapons, injuring them badly in prison, and then denied them medical treatment.
Further, for the first time in the history of Egyptian prisons, coup forces fired tear-gas canisters inside the cells in Cairo Appeals Prison, causing detainees to suffocate, and leading to deaths due to the small size of the cells and the lack of ventilation. This method was used with detainees at Abu-Zaabal Prison while being transported in police vans. Tear-gas canisters were fired inside the vans carrying the detainees. Each van had at least 40 people. Then, guards went on the rampage in another ‘torture party’ that led to the deaths of 37 people, according to statements made by the Interior Ministry.
Violations of human rights and international conventions on the criminalization of torture, and the Convention against Torture and the basic principles of the treatment of prisoners continue until this very moment without accountability or transparent investigation.
Crime of Forced Disappearance
The arrest of opposition figures and opponents of the coup took place immediately July 3rd, where large number of them have been arrested and at least 341 have disappeared, which Insaniya and HRM have documented. These individuals went missing following their arrest and during the massacres of sit-ins dispersals. Their families do not know anything about their whereabouts until now. Security and judicial authorities refuse to take any action that would disclose the whereabouts of their forced disappearances.
Arbitrary Arrest and Detention
In the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, Articles 9 and 14 affirm the right to liberty and security and the right to a speedy and fair trial.
However, on Monday September 23, 2013, the interim President of the Republic appointed by the coup leaders issued a decision to extend the period of pre-trial detention to 45 days, renewable without restriction to periods stipulated by law – which means that the duration of pre-trial detention has become completely open, so it may continue indefinitely, in clear violation of international laws, norms and conventions.
In another violation of the right to a fair trial, he issued a decree to hold trials for 140 people (accused in the Bab Al-Sheareya case) inside Abu-Zaabal Prison, instead of the original trial location of South Cairo Court of First Instance.
The arrests began with the arrest by the military of the elected President Mohamed Morsi and the presidential team, who were immediately detained at an undisclosed location, until now. At the time, the military arrested the President and the presidential team consisting of Ahmed Abdel-Aati, Essam Haddad, Ayman Ali, Asaad Al-Sheikha, Khaled Kazaz, Abdel-Meguid Mashaly, Rifa’a Al-Tahtawi, Ayman Al-Sirefi and Ayman Al-Hodhod, on July 3, 2013.
In the Constitution, the president enjoys impunity, being the supreme commander of the armed forces, and therefore his arrest and detention are considered unlawful arbitrary actions.
Moreover, the arrest of President Mohamed Morsi and his presidential team is a violation of the right to liberty and security enshrined in Article 9 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, as well as a violation of article 14 of the same Covenant regarding the right to legal procedures and a fair trial.
The 1973 Convention to prevent and punish crimes against Internationally Protected Persons, which includes diplomatic agents, states that "the Head of State, Minister of Foreign Affairs, and official representatives of the State or governmental organization who is entitled to be protected in a foreign country" the Convention "criminalizes each State party to any violation against any person who enjoys international protection, whether that violation is intentional murder, abduction, personal assault, curbing his freedom, or dangerous attacks on his official places of work, his correspondence, or his means of transportation, or the threat of or attempts to undertake such attacks, and makes such acts punishable with appropriate penalties that take into account the nature of relevant dangers" and regards anyone threatening or attempting to carry out those attacks a complicit partner in those attacks.
On the same day the military announced their coup, the Attorney General ordered the arrest of 300 leaders and members of the Muslim Brotherhood, the most powerful and most organized group in Egypt, which was always part of the opposition in the period before President Mohamed Morsi’s rule. This wave of arrests included the 85-year old Mohamed Mahdi Akef, former leader of the Muslim Brotherhood; Mohamed Saad Katatni, former speaker of the People’s Assembly; Khairat Al-Shater; Rashad Bayoumi, Helmi Al-Gazzar and many others. They were accused of inciting violence against demonstrators. He also ordered the names of 35 more members of the Muslim Brotherhood to be put on the list of persons banned from traveling, on similar charges.
Also targeted with arbitrary arrest and detention were anti-coup demonstrators and members of the Muslim Brotherhood – young and old alike. Arrests were always made randomly and without showing any warrants. Coup forces went hunting even for people who had passed away years ago, seeking to arrest and detain them.
Insaniya and HRM affirms that the mass arrest of opponents of the coup and of Muslim Brotherhood members, because of their political views or their affiliation, is a collective punishment – a crime that violates all international norms and laws and is one of the crimes against humanity.
Insaniya and HRM reminds the Egyptian government that the detention of thousands should not be made randomly; it must be based on evidence and concrete facts indicating the person or persons have committed a particular crime. Otherwise, this would be arbitrary arrest and detention, a violation of international law. In these cases, most of the charges against the detainees were based on no evidence except police investigations, and we have made it clear the police have lost their neutrality and become a political rival and therefore no judicial authority may rely on their investigations under any circumstances. Nevertheless, the Public Prosecution readily accepted police investigations and excessively abused the right to pre-trial detention, which is meant to be a precautionary measure when it is more than likely the accused person would be found guilty and it is feared he may escape or tamper with the evidence raised in the case. This underlines the lack of impartiality of the public prosecutor service and its direct subordination to the putschist junta?, which is a serious indication of the collapse of the system of justice in Egypt, and adds to the coup masterminds yet another crime: denial of justice.
Arrest of Lawyers
The putschists in Egypt have been targeting lawyers and human rights defenders in general, and in particular lawyers who are doing their part in defending and pleading for opponents of the coup.
Insaniya and HRM have documented the detention of a number of lawyers who were arrested from their homes, places of work, or even from inside prisons, without credible charges or evidence except security services’ investigations. Both the coup’s security services and the public prosecution service have been shown to lack impartiality. For example, the lawyer Abdel-Moneim Abdel-Maksoud, director of SAWASYA Center for Human Rights and former member of the National Council for Human Rights, was arrested on July 4, 2013 after going into a prison to represent his clients during investigations which took place inside a jail for Muslim Brotherhood detainees arrested on the day the military coup was announced, including Dr. Mohamed Saad Katatni and Mohamed Mahdi Akef, the former Chairman of the Muslim Brotherhood.
The lawyer Abdel-Moneim Abdel-Maksoud was arrested inside heavily-guarded Tora Prison. His arrest warrant was issued from within the prison. The prosecutor was there, questioning the accused. He questioned Abdel-Maksoud also inside the prison. He was accused of inciting violence and insulting the judiciary, which cannot be considered real crimes even if they occurred. This is a violation of the right to freedom of opinion and expression.
Khalaf Bayoumi, director of Shehab Center for Human Rights and the Muslim Brotherhood's lawyer in Alexandria was also targeted and arrested from his home on September 3, 2013 and accused of being a member of the Muslim Brotherhood.
Police also arrested lawyers who are considered symbols of the legal system and the law and leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood, like Hazem Salah Abu-Ismail, Essam Sultan and Ahmed Abu-Baraka, on mostly trumped-up charges and without any evidence except coup detectives’ investigations.
Continued targeting of lawyers in this way is a flagrant violation of the rights of the accused to a fair trial. How can a lawyer do his duty when he cannot protect himself from unjust arbitrary measures by security authorities and prosecutors? These lawyers’ rights are not personal ones, but a guarantee of the fairness of trials, since lawyers are one of the pillars of a justice system. A lawyer is indeed a witness and an observer who monitors the actions of the court and the public prosecutor. He can challenge the court and the prosecutors and object to their decisions, if necessary. These rights are enshrined in international laws and constitutions as well as the Egyptian lawyers’ law. Article I of said law states that "the legal profession shares the judiciary’s duty to achieve justice, to uphold the rule of law and to safeguard the right to defend citizens' rights and freedoms. The legal profession is exclusively practiced by lawyers in an independent role with no authority over them except their own conscience and the law".
Currently, lawyers and human rights defenders face dangers and threats of abduction, detention and even murder. This also is a violation of international conventions, in particular of Articles set forth in the Declaration on Human Rights Defenders and the Arab Charter of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
Arrest of Doctors
A number of doctors have been arrested since the announcement of the military coup in Egypt. Some were arrested from within the field hospital in Rabaa Al-Adaweya Square. Other doctors and paramedics were arrested as they did their duty helping the wounded and dealing with corpses of those who died in these massacres. For example, doctor Abdul-Rahman Shawwaf was arrested inside the field hospital while trying to aid a person injured in the Rabaa Al-Adaweya massacre. He is still in prison until this moment.
Doctor Mohamed Al-Zanaty was also arrested from his work in the morning. He was the director of the Rabaa field hospital. He used to go to his work in the morning, and volunteer to work in the Rabaa hospital in the evening. Nevertheless, he was arrested from his place of work, with several implausible charges brought against him. He is still in detention until this moment.
The arrest of doctors during the performance of their work is one of the most serious crimes against humanity, against the nobility of this profession in the defense of people’s right to life. Indeed, saving human lives should be kept out of any political calculations or agendas.
Arrest of Journalists
In addition to killing anyone carrying a camera, documenting the events of the violent onslaught on demonstrations and sit-ins during the massacres, coup security forces arrested a number of journalists, including the director and staff of satellite TV channel Al-Jazeera Mubasher - Egypt’s office, earlier. They also arrested Rassd News Network’s (RNN) reporter and his brother (Mahmoud and Ibrahim Ahmed), on the evening the coup was announced, during their coverage of Egyptian street reactions regarding the coup – in Alexandria. Those are still in custody in Al-Gherbiniat Prison, until this moment.
Then, Badr Mohamed Badr, Al-Jazeera cameraman, was arrested while covering the events of Ramses on July 15, 2013. His camera was seized by security forces, and he was transferred to Tora Prison.
Again, Al-Jazeera Mubasher – Egypt’s correspondents were targeted, as Abdullah Al-Shami (Al-Jazeera reporter) was arrested as he headed home with his wife and her sisters on the evening of the eviction of Rabaa Al-Adaweya massacre, on August 14, 2013. Dr Abdallah Al-Fakharani, Amr Salama Al-Qazaz and Samhy Mostafa directors of RNN.
In addition to the arrest of Arabic newspaper and TV channels reporters, foreign newspaper reporters were arrested. Coup security authorities arrested Tom Finan (Reuters) and Mike Giglio (the Daily Beast), after beating Giglio and two others who were also arrested (Mahmoud Abu Zeid and Louis James) according to tweets on their Twitter pages.
Coup authorities also arrested Tahir Osman Hamdi, director of the Turkish news agency Ikhlas’ office, Heba Zakaria, of Anadolu News Agency, and Metin Turan, of TRT Turkish TV channel, who is still in custody.
The arrest of journalists is a crime against the right to freedom of opinion and expression and freedom of exchange of information. It is a violation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and Advertising Global Human Rights as well as the Declaration on the Right and Responsibility of Individuals, Groups and Organs of Society to Promote and protect human rights and fundamental freedoms recognized globally and in particular Article 8, which states that individuals have the right to make criticism of government entities "to improve their functioning and to draw attention to any aspect of their work that may hinder or impede the promotion of human rights and fundamental freedoms and the protection and realization thereof", and also Article 12, which states that it is the right of everyone to enjoy the protection "from any violence, threats, retaliation, or discrimination as a result of the exercise of the right to receive and disseminate information".
Arrest of women and children
The number of women detained in prisons and different detention centres since the coup is above 500. Before and following the adoption of the repressive demonstrations law, women protesters have been targeted, thrown in jails with criminal prisoners, and trumped up charges of possession of a weapon, terrorism, murder and destruction of armored vehicles. The number of women who have been arrested and detained since the announcement of the coup is 96, at least. They have been subjected to detention for periods over 4 days, in some cases without any legal arrest warrants, permissions from the prosecutor or even records in any official lists. In the events of Ramses, on August 16, 2013, after the massacres of evicting the two sit-in sites, demonstrators turned out to protest against what happened. They were targeted with sniper-fire by aircraft, armored vehicles, the police, the army and hired thugs. This forced women to take shelter from the thugs and police inside Fateh Mosque. Then, the police and military forces surrounded the mosque, dragged them out and took them directly to the prison. They manage to get out of prison more than 15 days later, after paying bail.
Three of these women (who hold the Irish nationality) remained in detention centers for four months, although they did not know what charges are laid against them, when to expect trials to start, or why they have not been released for four months despite inquiries by the Irish Embassy about the reason for their arrest and attempts to get them released. Evidently, there is considerable intransigence on the part of coup authorities with regard to these and other women who continue to be arrested from all anti-coup demonstrations in all parts across the nation.
In October 2013 security forces arrested 14 girls, including 7 minors while protesting against the coup in front of the Cornish of Alexadria. The Alexandria Court sentenced them to 11 years imprisonment and ordered the detention of the minor girls in a care home indefinitely on charges of assembly, thuggery and resisting the authorities. The girls remained in detention until 7 December 2013, after the Appeal Court ordered their detention on bail for a y.ear and acquitted the minor girls.
Moreover, we documented the arrest of at least 52 children and minors who have been detained in prisons meant for criminals, in clear violation of Egyptian laws and international conventions that require the separation of children from adults and dictate that minors are placed in special care centers. Further, the precautionary detention of children is a flagrant violation of all laws and international conventions ratified by Egypt.
Nevertheless, children were arrested in the city of Ismailia. They were remanded in custody, jailed in Mostaqbal Prison where they were forced to share the same cells with hardened criminals. More children were arrested at various demonstrations on July 27, following the platform (or Manasseh) massacre. Then, they were transferred to the most notorious Istiqbal Prison. They were also interrogated inside the prison, and also charged with terrorism, attempted murder, possession of weapons and explosives, attempting to destabilize the country's security, hooliganism, blocking public freeways, and a long list of other implausible trumped up charges. Those children remain in prison until now, in spite of the continued violation of several Articles of the Convention on Rights of the Child, ratified by Egypt in July 1990 and the rules of the United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Administration of Juvenile Justice (Beijing).
Violence Against Women
Women have been exposed to numerous violations during the period Egypt lived so far under military rule. Dozens of elderly women and underage girls have been arrested and detained in prisons among hardened criminals, in violation of Egyptian laws and international conventions, which prohibit detaining minors on remand and criminalize placing them with adult criminals in the same cells.
A large number of women were arrested in army ambushes or during their return from anti-coup demonstrations to their homes, with the reason given for the arrest being their political affiliation and rejection of the coup.
Sumaiya Shawwaf, daughter of Dr. Abdul-Rahman Shawwaf, was arrested as an act of vindictiveness against her father, who volunteered as a doctor to work at the field hospital in all the massacres in Cairo. She was arrested from her home, in the middle of the night, by 20 Central Security Force recruits dressed as civilians and 9 Central Security Force vehicles. She was thrown in the back of a prisoner transport van among a group of hardened criminals, all men.
Women suffered violence at the hands of police and military forces. They were beaten, dragged on the ground, humiliated, threatened with sexual harassment, because those security forces know that they would not be held accountable "according to a statement leaked by a security official". At least one woman (of no political affiliation or activity) is known to have been raped while passing through an army check point during the curfew.
Police and army snipers have also shot women dead deliberately, especially those who were taking photographs. They were immediately shot in the chest in unprecedented violence never seen before in Egyptian society. This happened in Rabaa Al-Adaweya, Nahda, Ramses and Mansoura massacres. In Mansoura, women were attacked by thugs and security men in civilian clothes who attacked their peaceful march and targeted women, killing four. The youngest of the murdered women there was Hala Abu-Sheasha, who was shot dead with a treasonous bullet in the back, in violation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights as well as the Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women.
Continuing the same approach of ‘maximum force’ that indicates a deliberate security strategy to break the will of nonviolent demonstrators, female student Rofaidah Sayf was killed by sniper-fire in a peaceful march on October 6, 2013 in Beni Suef.
The repeated violations since the beginning of the violent events, including the burning of headquarters, the arrest, torture and killing of a segment of society because they follow a certain ideology or hold opposing political views, and granting others full rights and freedoms, giving them special favor, is racial discrimination by state agencies. It is a crime and a violation of human rights enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which states that "all people are born free and equal in dignity and rights and that everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind" as well as Article 2 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which affirms that " Each State Party to the present Covenant undertakes to respect and to ensure to all individuals within its territory and subject to its jurisdiction the rights recognized in the present Covenant, without distinction of any kind, such as race, color, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin...".
Incitement to violence and spreading hatred
Incitement to violence against demonstrators who reject the coup through TV channels and statements by representatives, actors, broadcasters, public figures, members of the army, and Interior Ministry officials (on Egyptian television) relentlessly charged citizens against their brothers and sisters in the homeland and caused the death of many people and the spilling of innocent blood. Evidently, this caused a lot of actual physical and psychological harm to a large swathe of society, that which opposes the coup. Obviously, this violates international as well as local laws and conventions. In fact, Article 86 of the Egyptian Penal Code states that the penalty for the crime of incitement is the same for those who do the incitement and those who act upon it.
Also, Article 20 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights states that "Any advocacy of national, racial or religious hatred that constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence shall be prohibited by law".
Forming unofficial armed groups to suppress opponents (thugs)
Baltageyah or ‘thugs’ is a term used by Egyptians to refer to the outlaws who attack citizens and rob them or even take their lives, usually wielding firearms and bladed weapons. They operate in mobs, and move to carry out specific missions, to mug people and rob them at knife point or block roads to citizens in order rob them as well. Sometimes, they are hired to carry out personal revenge attacks, to settle scores and end disputes where perhaps other legal solutions failed to work.
Thugs have always worked under the nose of the Ministry of Interior and with its full knowledge. They were used directly and systematically to quell all opponents of the former (Mubarak) regime. In all elections under the former regime, thugs would appear in large mobs outside polling stations and engage in terror attacks on opponents of the regime without suffering any consequences, trial or punishment.
Thugs were used by the Mubarak regime in an attempt to abort the January 25 Revolution, in what is known as the ‘Battle of the Camels’. Then, they disappeared from public life, to focus on criminal acts, like muggings and robbery in all governorates across Egypt. Their presence caused heavy psychological pressures on all citizens, amid a suspicious failure of security apparatuses that deliberately impressed on Egyptian citizens that the security chaos and their inability to deter criminals were due to the new climate of respecting human rights and banning torture.
Thus thugs continued their ‘private’ crimes, until they made a come-back and started to appear in political life once again, during President Mohamed Morsi’s rule, joining any demonstrations against the elected President and turning them into violent destructive clashes.
In the months before the military coup, thugs operated very visibly and effectively, supported directly and protected most clearly by the police force, which stood by large mobs of them as they killed supporters of the elected President and burnt their property systematically, organized all over the country. Photographs and videos recorded at the scene of many of their attacks show thugs pouring out of armored police and army personnel carriers and sheltering behind those armored vehicles during these criminal attacks.
Following the coup was the activity most expansion at all, and the center of media support them Viosvon citizens honorable and sheltering including them of weapons behind an armored security and cooperate with the police and the army, as if they were regular soldiers with them and distribute roles at each other, and almost all of the events have not abandoned the emergence of a clear and striking them.
Direct accusations were made and clear signs emerged of full affiliation of thugs to the Ministry of the Interior. It is well known to all Egyptians that security apparatuses are fully acquainted and have close ties to thugs. This is why, if a citizen known or related to any security official gets attacked by any thugs, the security agencies rapidly identify those responsible. This happened when politicians Amr Hamzawy and Abdel-Moneim Abul-Fotouh’s cars were stolen (in two separate incidents, at different times). Then, despite the totally chaotic security situation, those forces were able to get back the stolen cars within about 24 hours, although there was no evidence security authorities could have used to find the culprits.
Further, many members of the security forces were filmed among thugs, in civilian clothes, and were positively identified. Confirming this conclusion, a number of April 8 officers appeared in more than one incident, accompanied by thugs, all wielding police firearms. Also, confirming this, is the very clear and strangely accurate timing of the coordination among the security forces, military-friendly media and the armies of thugs in all incidents and clashes, and that they all move according to one repressive security plan in the face of all regime opponents.
Notably, none of these thugs has been held accountable, until this moment. In fact, the Egyptian judiciary has not touched this subject, despite hundreds of complaints thereon from citizens. For example, although the killer of female student Hala Abu Sheasha in Mansoura was identified by eyewitnesses, he was released by the Public Prosecution, who instead put the murdered girl’s father in prison on charges of incitement to violence, and kept them there until now.
Violation of freedom of opinion and expression and the right to demonstrate
On the same day the coup was announced, the putschists immediately closed TV channels suspected of opposition to the coup, including Al-Jazeera, Misr 25 (Egypt 25) and several other channels. The crew of Al-Jazeera Mubasher Egypt and many other journalists were arrested over the hundred days since the coup. Moreover, the putschists’ snipers targeted journalists and photographers, like Ahmed Assem, Freedom and Justice newspaper journalist and photographer, who filmed the moment of his own death. Also, female journalist Habiba Ahmed Abdul-Aziz, Gulf News reporter, was shot dead as she filmed events live during the Rabaa Al-Adaweya massacre. In those same events, Ahmed Abdel-Gawwad, Akhbar newspaper journalist; Musaab Al-Shami, photojournalist; and Mike Dean, Sky News photographer, were killed during coverage of the mass killings.
Those murders were followed with atrocities including arbitrary arrests, beatings and death threats by army and police personnel as well as some civilians. This represents a violation of Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, on the right to information and material, and Articles 9 and 14, on the right to liberty and security.
Before the military coup, members of the Muslim Brotherhood and peaceful protesters were targeted, since June 28 and 29. They were hunted and arrested even at cafes and in the streets, and invariably, trumped up charges were brought against them. Immediately after the coup, the putschists issued a list of 300 names of Muslim Brotherhood members and started vicious campaigns of arrests in all parts of the country. They also chased protesters in nonviolent demonstrations, and tried to disperse protest marches and sit-ins. All this constitutes a violation of Article 21 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights on freedom of peaceful assembly.
Coup security authorities set up many army and police check-points, where officers arrested anyone who seemed to oppose the coup or belong to the Muslim Brotherhood. Absurdly, they started sending army personnel to children's schools, to watch what they say and do, putting parents into custody for entertaining different political views or showing opposition to the coup and its crimes. Even worse, coup security forces now stop school-buses, and question children about their parents and their affiliations. Typically, they physically abuse the children, insulting and beating them if their parents seem to belong to a particular political faction. Insaniya and HRM have documented these cases.
On September 23, 2013 the Minister of Solidarity issued a decision to dissolve the Muslim Brotherhood’s officially registered NGO, in violation of local and international laws, especially the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, Article 22.
The interim government in Egypt is in the process of approving the draft law on demonstrations, which confiscates the right to demonstrate and completely violates international laws and covenants on human rights, which guarantee the right to peaceful assembly as well as freedom of opinion and expression. Article 6 of the draft law imposes a permanent ban on all sit-ins, while Article 7 defines a new offense of "incitement to protest". Furthermore, Article 17 justifies killing as a means for security authorities in the defense of property.
The draft law also prohibits people from approaching the headquarters of the president, the legislature, the cabinet, the ministries, provincial governors, the courts, prosecution services, international organizations, foreign diplomatic missions, the police (including police stations) and security directorates, as well as prisons, security and regulatory agencies, and archaeological sites. This, certainly, closes any opportunity for demonstrations anywhere and undermines their goals, in addition to giving the Interior Ministry the right to prevent any demonstration under the pretext of protecting public order, and thus there will be no right to demonstrate. Those who break this law will have to pay a fine ranging between one hundred thousand to three hundred thousand Egyptian pounds.
Until the time of writing these lines the current regime in Egypt is still committing all kinds of horrid crimes and violating international conventions and laws. The systematic killing continues. Peaceful protesters in anti-coup marches are shot with live bullets, cities are stormed and its residents shot with live ammunition, and dissidents are rounded up, abducted and tortured severely, often leading to death. All this goes on with neither accountability nor punishment. No-one has to answer to authorities for any of the crimes committed by police, army or security apparatus officers. This led to these crimes increasing in intensity and severity, with still no deterrent to the perpetrators. This also encourages thugs and the general public to commit all kinds of crimes, as long as they are not crimes of opposition to the ruling regime. Because now there is no accountability, simply arrests, killings and torture.
The failure to hold accountable all those involved in such crimes is a flagrant violation of international laws and conventions ratified by Egypt, including the International Covenant on Religious and Political Rights, and the Convention against Torture, in particular Article II, related to the duties of Egypt as a signatory to the Convention to investigate these violations and to hold accountable those involved, in a fair trial, and to give appropriate compensation to the victims and their families, and not to take any exceptional circumstances as an excuse for committing such crimes. Article II of the Convention states that "No exceptional circumstances whatsoever, whether a state of war or threat of war, internal political instability or any public emergency, may be invoked as a justification of torture". Further, the Convention Against Torture guarantees protection for those subjected to violation, who filed a complaint, to protect them and their witnesses also. This certainly does not occur at all in Egypt. On the contrary, when a complaint against any individual in the security apparatus is lodged with authorities, the victim and his family suffer threats, kidnapping, and more torture.
In this regard, Insaniya with HRM have filed numerous complaints of torture and torture leading to death at the hands of specific members of the police and security agencies, but no investigations were ever started in any of the complaints and no conclusion was reached until this moment.
Denial of Justice
Since the beginning of the coup, the judiciary and especially the public prosecutor service were complicit in crimes of denial of justice and the politicization of the judiciary, robbing it of its essential impartiality and integrity completely. The public prosecution, headed by the Attorney General, appointed immediately following the coup, deliberately broke all laws and trampled justice. Its bias cast heavy dark shadows as it became one of the arms of the current ruling regime, repressing and punishing dissidents, fabricating charges, accusing opponents without evidence, which threatens Egypt in its entirety as a state, because the state where citizens cannot get their legal rights through the law, indirectly forces its citizens to resort to violence and personal revenge through illegal means, since the legal route is blocked. The public prosecution service in Egypt, as in all other countries, is one of the essential routes for action to move criminal cases. No victim can personally bring a criminal case before the criminal courts. The public prosecution has clearly committed numerous violations of Egyptian law and the international law, the most important of which, according to Insaniya, HRM’s lawyers and legal experts, are:
- Abuse of power: The public prosecution ordered the imprisonment of all political opponents on clearly fabricated charges, obvious from the details of the investigations where accusations were based on investigations by security agency which lost its neutrality and were clearly biased for a specific political current against another. It was essential for the public prosecutions to rely on evidence not information from agencies with a proven lack of impartiality.
- Lack of neutrality and imbalance of Justice: When coup authorities accuse any number of people, whatever their level of intellectual or scientific achievement, orders are immediately issued for their arrest and precautionary detention. However, the families of victims lodge formal complaints accompanied by clear evidence, the Public Prosecution does not take any action, not even by questioning any heads of the accused security agencies.
- The public prosecutor also moved the criminal proceedings, opened an immediate investigation, and ordered the arrest and detention of all anti-coup political leaders, without exception, on charges of incitement to kill demonstrators, without any evidence, based only on information from security authorities accused by coup victims of complicity.
- Grave professional offenses in investigations of coup opponents
- Investigations are carried out by no decision-makers, which means that the investigating prosecutor is merely someone who copies the words to superiors. Most investigations take place in locations where no investigation should be carried out because they deprive them of neutrality or fail to achieve the purposes of judicial investigation. Further, most investigations are carried out during curfew times, when the defendants’ lawyers cannot attend.
Deliberately refraining from carrying out any investigation that condemns authorities:
Insaniya and HRM’s researchers reviewed hundreds of complaints against the leaders of security authorities accused, with supporting with evidence, but not acted upon by the public prosecution, who never ordered investigations into any of them.
Deliberately refraining from doing duty of monitoring places of detention:
During investigations, defendants and detainees' lawyers made complaints of inadequate, unsuitable and illegal places of detention and of ill-treatment and violations of their rights to humane and decent treatment as remand detainees, but the public prosecutor did not take action in this regard.
Complicity in crimes of torture of detainees opposed to the coup, deliberately refraining from taking any action that would preserve the dignity of detainees.
The public prosecution refrained from taking actions made necessary by the law to stop the continued killing by the ruling regime despite the availability of information about it. Instead, it issued a permit for those with doubtful integrity, impartiality and competence, without oversight, to take action expected to cause many deaths, and then intentionally failing to take any action to ensure accountability of the killers, effectively immunizing killers and making them commit even more killings under the protection and care of the Attorney General.
Military trials of civilians
The new constitutional declaration issued by the interim president Adli Mansour included an amendment regarding military trials of civilians. This amendment opened the door to military trials of civilians, whereas the 2012 Constitution limited those to armed forces crimes.
In fact, since the army grabbed power once again through the military putsch, 64 anti-coup people have been referred to the military court in Suez, on charges of incitement to murder and burning churches and police armored vehicles. That court sentenced them to life imprisonment. This was a mass trial of civilians before a military court, the third such mass trial since the beginning of the coup.
This trial was followed by the arrest of Mohamed Abu-Deraa, the journalist who was covering the clashes in Sinai on September 4. He was referred to military trial on charges of spreading false news and entering restricted military areas.
The trial of civilians before military courts constitutes a flagrant violation of the right to a fair trial guaranteed in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights in Article 14, and in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in Article 10 and 11, which safeguard the right to a fair and public hearing by an independent and impartial court and that a person is presumed innocent until proven guilty and that he has a full right to defense.