Home Page > News Item > EGYPT: Internet writer Kareem Amer ill treated

8 September 2008
Update #4 to RAN 05/07

The Writers in Prison Committee of International PEN is seriously concerned for the well-being of Internet writer Kareem Amer following reports that he has been ill-treated in detention at Borg Alarab prison, where he is serving his four-year sentence. International PEN calls for these allegations to be investigated and for their findings to be made public. It reminds the Egyptian authorities of their obligations under the United Nations Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, and the Articles 126, 127 and 139 of the Egyptian Criminal Code. International PEN seeks assurances of Kareem Amer’s well-being, and renews its call for his immediate and unconditional release in accordance with Article 19 of the United Nations International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Egypt is a signatory.

According to a lawyer from the Arabic Network for Human Rights, who visited Kareem Amer on 30 August 2008, Amer is in a poor state of health and continues to be ill-treated in jail. He must follow the strict rules that apply to political prisoners during visits, although he remains in the criminal prisoners division, where he is treated without any consideration of his rights as a political prisoner. Reports suggest that the prison administration does not allow him to go to the prison yard as others do, and that fellow inmates harass him under orders of the prison administration.

Kareem Amer has previously reported being threatened and ill-treated in prison by officials and by other prisoners, and that he spent time in a disciplinary cell, where he received further beatings and was denied sufficient food and water. The incident followed an allegation of corruption made by Karim Amer against the prison authorities in late 2007. Kareem Amer’s lawyers have filed a complaint to the Prosecution Office ten months ago. However, no investigation has yet started.

Background
Kareem Amer was summoned to appear before the office of the Public Prosecutor in Alexandria on 7 November 2006 after posting articles critical of Islam on his web log. He was charged with ‘incitement to hate Muslims’, ‘defaming the President of the Republic’ and ‘insulting Islam’, and was held on renewable two-week detention orders until his trial began on 18 January 2007. He was sentenced to four years in prison on 22 February 2007.

Kareem Amer is a former al-Azhyar University student and is known for his secular views and his critical writings on Islam and Egypt’s highest religious authorities published online (www.karam903.blogspot.com).

This is not the first time that Kareem Amer has been detained for his critical writings. He was held for 12 days in October 2005 for his articles on Islam and his coverage of sectarian riots in Alexandria. These articles also led to his dismissal from al-Azhar University in March 2006 after its disciplinary board found him guilty of blasphemy against Islam.

Please send appeals:

Expressing serious concern at reports that Kareem Amer is being ill-treated while in detention in Borg Alarab prison, and urging that they are fully investigated;

Reminding the Egyptian authorities of their obligations to the United Nations Convention against Torture;

Seeking assurances of Kareem Amer’s well-being, and calling for his immediate and unconditional release in accordance with Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights to which Egypt is a signatory;

Centres are encouraged to consider Kareem Amer for honorary membership.
Addresses

His Excellency Mohammad Hosni Mubarak
President of the Republic of Egypt
Heliopolis
Egypt
Fax: +202 390 1998

Cc. His Excellency Cr Mamdouh Muheiddin Marei
Minister of Justice
Magles El Shaab St
Justice Bldg
Cairo
Egypt
Fax: +202 7958103

If possible please copy appeals to the diplomatic representative for Egypt in your country.

***Please contact this office if sending appeals after 20 October 2008***

For further information, please contact Cathy McCann at International PEN WiPC, 50/51 Brownlow House, High Holborn, London WC1V 6ER, United Kingdom. Tel: +44 (0) 20740580338. Email: cathy.mccann@internationalpen.org.uk

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