Counter-terrorism against the background of an endless state of emergency

The International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) is releasing today a report documenting the use of torture and the violations of fair trial guarantees in the context of the fight against terrorism and the state of emergency in Egypt.


A few days after the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva examined Egypt’s human rights record in the framework of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR), FIDH and its member and partner organizations, the Egyptian Organization for Human Rights and the Nadim Center for the Rehabilitation of Victims of Torture, seize the opportunity to remind the Government of Egypt of their responsibility for the respect and protection of human rights in the country, and that the fight against «terrorism» should not be invoked as an excuse for human rights violations. Egypt must respect its international obligations.

The report entitled “Counter-terrorism against the background of an endless state of emergency”is based on a fact-finding mission conducted in May 2009. The mission concluded that the current legal regime and practices still involve arbitrary arrests, systematic use of torture against people suspected of terrorism and other detainees, detention in unofficial facilities, particularly State Security Intelligence offices, violations of fair trial guarantees, admission of confessions obtained under duress, and violations of the rights to freedom of expression, assembly and association.
Furthermore, many former «terrorism suspects» have testified to the effect of being arrested and held incommunicado in State Security Intelligence secret and underground interrogation centers. As recalled by the UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights while countering terrorism, «such practices would result in a situation where the detainee is beyond any protection of the law and in some cases amount to enforced disappearance ».

Based on those findings, and in light of the Human Rights Council recommendations, FIDH urges the Egyptian authorities to repeal the Emergency Law and make sure that the new anti-terrorism law in preparation meets the requirements of international human rights law, and in particular takes into account the requirements relating to the definition of the crime of terrorism and the necessary respect for fair trial guarantees and the absolute prohibition of torture.
The Egyptian authorities should end all forms of secret or incommunicado detention and to enforced disappearances. Furthermore, all people arbitrarily detained should be freed or immediately charged with a cognizable offense.

FIDH calls on the US government and other members of the international community to use their influence on the Egyptian authorities to ensure compatibility between human rights and the fight against terrorism and therefore to condition their military and development aid to concrete progress in the field of the fight against impunity.

Bearing in mind that the prohibition of torture is also a priority for the European Union, FIDH urges the EU to better address the issue of human rights violations perpetrated in the name of the fight against terrorism in its bilateral dialogue with the Egyptian Government.

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