Human rights center says further investigation needed to uncover other violations
The Sawasya Center for Human Rights and Anti-Discrimination issued a statement earlier this week announcing that a court ruling fined a police officer for abusing three judges in last year s parliamentary elections.
Edko District Court fined police officer Mohammed Roshdy from El-Beheira security directorate LE 3,000 for insulting three judges. The three judges, Tarek Noaman, Abdel Rahman Mohammed and Ahmed Abdel Wareth, were monitoring the 2005 parliamentary elections in El-Maadeya preparatory school in Edko. The lawsuit was filed against the officer following the elections.
The three judges said they were trapped inside their sealed-off polling stations and, hence, were prevented from investigating the complaints from people who were allegedly prevented from voting.
Last year’s parliamentary elections were marred by reports of wide scale violations throughout the country. The three judges, among others, claim they were abused while trying to help voters reach polling stations, where members of the police had allegedly prevented people line up outside from reaching the ballot boxes.
[Security forces] prevented the supporters of the competitive candidates from getting inside the stations, except the NDP supporters in poll station Al-Bahrian School, the Egyptian Human Rights Organization (EOHR) said in a report on the elections. The rights group had sent an observatory group to monitor the elections. Different rights groups reported the same complaints.
EOHR s observatory group declared that the 100 poll stations in the four different governorates [of the third round] were closed, the report continued.
In addition to voter inability to reach ballot boxes, the phosphoric ink that the government had said would ensure that each voter would vote just once wasn t effective. Each voter was supposed to dip one finger in the ink when they voted. Some voters had more than one finger painted with the phosphoric ink.
Moreover, physical violence marred the 2005 parliamentary elections. The police allegedly resorted to violence on some occasions to disperse voters. A number of people were killed, while others were injured.
Human rights organizations have reported similar complaints at different polling stations throughout the country: . [security forces were observed] tear gas bombs, beating with sticks and shooting [in the direction] the voters with gun fire to separate the public. This happened clearly in Al-Borlos and Al-Hamuul constituency in Kafr El-Sheikh governorate. The incident ended in the death of Gomaa Saad El-Zeftawy, one of the supporters of Hamdeen Sabahy, the candidate for Al-Karama and the National Front Movement, and many other supporters were injured badly, the EOHR report said.
Rights groups believe that the repercussion is that many citizens have developed a fear of voting, which will, in turn, hinder the democratic reform process.
The EOHR also contained eyewitness accounts to support its claims. Sabah Abdel Hamid Al-Touhami, holder of a commercial studies diploma, who was trying to vote: I was going to vote when they told us to stand in a line so we can get in. Then, security forces attacked us, threw stones at us, circled us, and they even hit me in the stomach, back, and arm . everywhere … notwithstanding I am pregnant. An ambulance carried me away to Darb Nigm Hospital. I was bleeding and all alone. That happened at 3:30 p.m. and they never let any women in, recounted the report.
Rights groups, opposition parties and reformist judges say that there are cases of violations still pending in the court system that need to be investigated by the government. Rights groups welcome the present court ruling, but they say it s important that other cases are investigated as well to prevent any future violations from taking place.
The center emphasizes the importance of full investigation of all violations that took place to the judges in the November 2005 parliamentary elections and the importance of full judicial observation for any future elections as the method to true representation of the Egyptian people, says the Sawasya Center in their statement.