- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 26, 2007

Al Jazeera Documentary channel finally aired its much-anticipated documentary about torture in Egypt. The documentary, titled “Wara El Shams” or “Beyond the Sun,” included interviews with persons alleging they were abused by police and security forces, re-enacted scenes, and commentary from human rights organizations and former police officers, reported the Daily Star Egypt.

Egyptian authorities had arrested (then released) the producer of the documentary in Cairo before returning to Qatar to finish working on the project. They had confiscated the tapes and accused her of “tarnishing the image and reputation of Egypt,” a criminal offense.

Amnesty International has also recently issued a report criticizing Egypt for using methods of torture and abuse on terrorism suspects as well as for minor offenses. The group was concerned about recent amendments in the Egyptian constitution, particularly the one that suspended civil rights in terror investigations and enabled the state to prosecute civilians in military courts.

Amnesty’s deputy Middle East director said the situation was getting worse “in the sense that the safeguards against torture in the constitution have been undermined,” reported the Daily Star Egypt.

“The Egyptian authorities are committing systematic human rights abuses in the name of national security. The new constitutional amendments and proposed anti-terrorism law aim at curbing human rights and will perpetuate abuses,” said the Amnesty’s deputy Middle East director.

Egypt rejected the report calling it inaccurate and unfair. Right now, it is the victims’ words against the authorities’. But the subject is increasingly covered by newspapers, TV and bloggers. Videos of torture, such as the one on YouTube.com showing a suspect being sodomized by policemen in Egypt, cannot be denied. Soon, authorities will have to own up to it and discuss the problem. It is just a matter of time.

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