The human rights group Amnesty International has decried the 12-year
incarceration of an Israeli citizen in Egypt in a report published Wednesday
that outlines crimes committed by former President Hosni Mubarak’s security
In the report “Time for Justice: Egypt’s Corrosive System of
Detention,” Amnesty called for the immediate establishment of an independent
inquiry into human rights abuses committed by the country’s much-feared State
Security Investigations Service.
According to the report, Ouda Suleiman
Tarabin, a dual national of Egypt and Israel, continues to be detained in the
Liman Tora Prison, allegedly on the basis that he had been tried by a military
court and sentenced to 15 years’ imprisonment for espionage in
“Tarabin was arrested two days after he entered Egypt
illegally. He said he was insulted when he showed an Israeli passport. He
told the lawyer who represents him now that he was never brought before a judge
or assigned a lawyer before,” stated the report.
“The authorities have so
far failed to provide a copy of the verdict of the military court despite
repeated requests by the lawyer to the Minister of Interior, Minister of Justice
and the prison authorities, and it remains unclear whether he is indeed serving
a prison sentence or is in fact held in administrative detention,” the report
Amnesty International wrote to the minister of interior to inquire
about Tarabin’s legal status, but received no answer.
It claims in its
report that “administrative detention was clearly used to circumvent all sorts
of judicial rulings, including those issued by courts established by the
Emergency Law. The authorities appeared intent on holding people they consider a
‘threat.’ While arresting and detaining them, they have also deprived them of
their most fundamental rights.”
Tarabin’s case is one of dozens of
examples cited in the report, which argues that Egypt’s repressive security
force must be held to account for its use of emergency powers under
“Under the cover of the state of emergency, President Mubarak’s
state security forces were for years allowed to commit gross violations without
fear of scrutiny or punishment,” said Amnesty International.
officers used administrative detention to hold people who were critical of the
Egyptian authorities, human rights activists and criminal suspects for as long
as they wanted and without intent to prosecute them in a criminal
Amnesty International called for victims of human rights
violations to receive reparations, including financial compensation and
guarantees that there will be fundamental reform.
“The authorities cannot
expect to simply sweep the past under the carpet without addressing the needs of
the victims of years of ruthless repression,” the group said. “It demands
immediate concrete steps from the authorities so that those responsible for
serious human rights violations are held to account. Egyptians must see justice
done for the human rights abuses of the past.”
Amnesty also called for
Egypt’s 30-year state of emergency to be ended immediately, and said that all
provisions of the Emergency Law must be repealed.
authorities have never disclosed how many people were held in administrative
National and international human rights organizations
estimated the number in the last years of Mubarak's rule to be between 6,000 and
Jerusalem source in Jerusalem said that for the past decade,
Israel has been attempting to gain information regarding Tarabin and work for
his release. According to the source, attempts have been made on all levels,
including during visits by heads of state, to glean information about the case,
but to no avail.
The source said that everyone from presidents to prime
ministers and foreign ministers have tried to assist Tarabin, but received no
response from Egyptian authorities.
“During the past two years we have
been trying to get him released or pardoned as he has completed more than
twothirds of his sentence, but without success. Since the Egyptian uprising we
have been seeing the release of political prisoners and are hopeful Tarabin will
also be freed,” said the source, who also noted that Israel found out about
Tarabin’s incarceration only four years after his arrest.
“No one told us
about it. His family never complained, we were never approached by a lawyer, we
had no idea,” the source said. “Egypt is currently undergoing great
changes. They recently canceled the Emergency Laws. We hope this will
impact Tarabin’s case, too.”
The source stressed that Tarabin was a
citizen who had been judged under military law, a highly problematic fact
running contrary to international law.