Police abuse and torture continue to be ongoing issues two years after the start of the Egyptian Revolution [JURIST backgrounder], an Egyptian rights group reported [text] this week. In its report, the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR) [advocacy website] said that police conduct has not improved since the abuses experienced under former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak [BBC profile; JURIST news archive]. The report accused the current administration under President Mohammed Morsi [BBC profile; JURIST news archive] of promoting continued impunity for police misconduct:
There has also been no thoroughgoing change, or even cosmetic improvement, in the police apparatus, whether related to its administrative structure, decision-making, oversight of police work or the reform and removal of leaders and personnel responsible for torture and killing. There has also been no notable change to rules regulating the use of force and firearms, and no amendments to the statutory framework governing police work. The Interior Ministry, backed by the cabinet at times, continues to defend criminal police personnel by denying the facts, justifying abuses or turning a blind eye as policemen facing criminal charges pressure their victims to change their statements to undermine the case.The rights group urged the Egyptian government to modify current laws to provide clear protection for citizens from police misconduct, and to establish an independent committee to review allegations of abuse by law enforcement.
The new Egyptian government has faced heavy criticism from rights groups, particularly in relation to provisions of the newly adopted constitution [text, in English]. Earlier this month, Amnesty International called for Egypt to release an Egyptian journalist [JURIST report] facing a military trial under a new provision of the constitution that permits the government to try some civilians in military court. Following the adoption of the constitution in December, a coalition of Egyptian rights group called for a re-vote, alleging widespread irregularities [JURIST report] in voting procedures. Supporters of the document from the Muslim Brotherhood, however, claimed its approval was the valid choice of the people. It was signed into law [JURIST report] by Morsi weeks after its approval. Earlier in December, a UN committee expressed grave concern [JURIST report] about a draft of the constitution, noting that no women were involved in drafting the document and that their rights were "grossly under-represented." In November AI also voiced concern [JURIST report] that the approved constitution contains language that "ignores the rights of women, restricts freedom of expression in the name of protecting religion, and allows for the military trial of civilians."