A duty to protect, not torture

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Khalid_Saeed2Moscow, June 12, 2010 (Pal Telegraph– by Rachael Rudolph)-  In most countries the duty of an officer of the law is to protect ordinary citizens, and not to brutally beat, torture and kill those they are charged with protecting.  Two officers, Mohamed Alfallah and Awaad Elmokhber, have been accused of beating, torturing and killing Khalid Saeed in Alexandria, Egypt.  For many human rights observers the death of young Khalid is just one of many cases that have occurred at the hands of the current Egyptian government under the so-called Emergency Laws.

Khaleed Saeed, a 28-year old, was in an internet café that he frequently visited when the officers stormed in demanding to see the identification cards of all those present.   Under Egyptian emergency laws, enacted following the assassination of Anwar Elsadat in 1981, parts of the Egyptian Constitution were suspended in order to restrict the freedom and basic human rights of ordinary citizens.  Police are granted the power to arrest, detain and search individuals without due process afforded under the Egyptian Criminal Procedure Code.

When the officers demanded the identification cards of those present in the internet café, young Khalid demanded to know the reason for their request.  Rather than having to explain themselves, according to those present in the café, the officers brutally kicked young Khalid in the chest and stomach.  His head was then bashed repeatedly into the concrete floor of the internet café.  Khalid was then taken into custody.  After several hours, witnesses reported seeing his dead, tortured, mangled body being dumped into the streets.  It was suggested that the body was dumped so that the officers can claim they found young Khalid dead, after being attacked by unknown assailants, thus avoiding culpability.

According to the Islamic Human Rights Commission in the UK, the family of young Khaled submitted a complaint to the General Prosecution against the Ministry of Interior, requesting an investigation.  The family has accused some informers and polices officers with torturing their son at the police station.  Ahmed Saeed, the brother of the tortured young man, said that Alexandria Prosecution ordered the coroner to investigate.  Nassar Centre for Human Rights issued a statement condemning the killing.

Egypt has consistently come under fire for its violation of basic human rights.  Human Rights Watch and other nongovernmental human rights groups have continuously called on the Egyptian government to halt the use of torture by police and security forces.  The use of torture is in violation of international customary law and the United Nations Convention Against Torture.

Concerned humanitarians can no longer remain idle or silent.  They have a moral duty to stop injustice and demand justice.  Cruel, degrading and inhumane treatment can no longer be tolerated if the global world is to live harmoniously, where respect and tolerance for different opinions coexist.   Humanitarians around the world must add their voices, standing steadfast and in solidarity with the human rights organizations in Egypt, in the call for an investigation and condemnation of the killing of Khalid Saeed.

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