No Extradition Agreement

Why Britain Must Refuse Any Extradition Agreement with Egypt.

( As of June 2012 I am working on this article and it is unfinished )

It is highly regrettable that some Egyptian politicians who have stolen millions in corruption might be hiding in the U.K. and other European countries.  So I understand why many Egyptians would like the U.K. to sign an extradition agreement with Egypt but here are the reasons why any such agreement would be in itself a great injustice.

  1. There is no jury system in Egypt. Normal court verdicts in criminal cases are reached either by a single judge or a panel of three judges. Unfortunately the judiciary appointed by the former dictator Mubarak is still in place and its’ decisions are often motivated by a desire, as the Globe and Mail  (14.06.12) recently put it, “to protect the status quo – namely itself and the military – against democratic change.”Individual judges realize that by passing judgements favourable to the military junta they improve their chances of career advancement and of avoiding early retirement. A few of those who don’t share the conservative ideology of the majority will no doubt bravely refuse to be influenced by such considerations, but many may be less willing to sacrifice their careers with one serving Egyptian judge recently admitting that the judicial system is becoming “even more tarnished” under the current military junta ( judge Asem Abdel Gabbar quoted in Egypt Independent ). No wonder Professor Nathan Brown concludes that “There is some concern not merely about the political role of judges but also about politicization of court judgments.” ( Nathan J Brown, Professor of Political Science and International Affairs at George Washington University, “Egypt’s Judges in a Revolutionary Age”, Carnegie Paper, February 2012 )
  2. Suspects in Egypt are often held prior to trial for five years of more in appalling conditions. Please read my own report from my own personal experiences at Tora prison.
  3. There is such a backlog of cases and so little time, that Judges often have to make decisions on several cases in one day.  They do not have time to read all the documents and often refuse to allow anything except a very brief summary statement from the defence.
  4. Any extradition agreement might also be applied to non-Egyptian researchers and journalists who may have been allowed bail while awaiting trial inside Egypt on fake charges. Or even to non-Egyptians who have been deported and then tried and convicted in absentia !  In my case ( details here ) I was falsey charged with stone throwing while photographing a protest near Tahrir Square and after 54 days detention I was deported and am now banned from returning and consequently banned from attending my own trial.  How can it be then fair if I’m then convicted in absentia and extradited back to Egypt to face a possibly lengthy prison sentence !
  5. Any trial of a foreigner in Egypt would be conducted against a background of extreme xenophobia in which all foreigners, let alone journalists, researchers and photographers, are suspected automatically of spying.  To understand the extent of this please see this television advertisement which was running in June 2012 (New York Times 08.06.2012).  The veteran Middle East journalist and author Robert Fisk recently remarked  – “a strange but not unfamiliar phenomenon has reappeared in Egypt: fear of the foreigner. Public service broadcasts, Mubarakite in their witlessness, have urged Egyptians to watch what they say in front of foreigners. Cameras in the hands of foreigners are increasingly regarded as spy machines. Egyptian film-makers meeting in Paris have described how the explosion of popular “image-making” during last year’s revolution is now being effaced as distrust grows.” ( Robert Fisk, The Independent, 22 June 2012 )

HERE ARE SOME RECENT QUOTATIONS WHICH CAST AN INTERESTING LIGHT ON THE OBJECTIVITY OF EGYPT’S JUDICIARY –

“Egypt will be effectively ruled by the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) junta and its’ backers in the bureaucracy and judiciary until further notice.”
( Tony Karon, “Egypt’s Judges and Generals Dissolve Parliament”, Time Magazine, 14.06.2012 )

“Many justices seem to be as concerned and may be more concerned about a possible tyranny of the majority than about the tyranny of the army.”
( Clark Lombardi, Associate Professor of Law, University of Washington, Quoted in the National, 22 June 2012 )

“We used to stand at the edge of the judiciary and not go near politics. But now Egypt is falling. We won’t leave matters for those who can’t manage them, with the excuse that we’re not people of politics. No, we are people of politics.”
( Ahmed el Zend, President of the Association of Judges, quoted in The New York Times, 7 June 2012 )

“(Parliament is) a thorn in the side of Egypt”
( Ahmed el Zend, president of the Association of Judges, quoted on ForeignPolicy.com, 11.06.2012 )

“Even if he (Ahmed el Zend) was speaking in his personal capacity and not on behalf of the association, his statement has irrevocably tainted the neutrality of the judiciary on the eve of the most polarizing and competitive presidential election in Egypt’s history.”
( Mara Revkin, assistant director of the Atlantic Council’s Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East, on ForeignPolicy.com 11.06.2012 )

“The judiciary’s apparent bias toward Shafiq and the former regime he symbolizes is the logical outcome of an institutional evolution — from opposition to co-optation — that began in 2005….. Its’ (The Judge’s Club) deliberate complacency in the final years of Mubarak’s rule could not have been more political. The Judges Club was simply acting in the interests of the regime by not acting at all. But now that the Muslim Brotherhood is threatening to overturn the status quo — represented by Ahmed Shafiq and the military establishment — the Judges Club has reactivated its political role as an ally of the former regime and bulwark against political change.”
( Mara Revkin, assistant director of the Atlantic Council’s Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East, on ForeignPolicy.com 11.06.2012 )

“The court (Egypt’s Supreme Constitutional Court) is supposed to be independent. But its decision to dissolve Egypt’s Islamist-led Parliament and allow Hosni Mubarak’s last prime minister to run for president suggest a far different reality: that the judiciary is working to protect the status quo – namely itself and the military – against democratic change…. Today, it ( Egypt’s Supreme Constitutional Court ) is stacked with sympathizers of the ousted president.”
( Sonia Verma in the Globe and Mail, 14.06.2012 )

“There is some concern not merely about the political role of judges but also about politicization of court judgments.”
( Nathan J Brown, Professor of Political Science and International Affairs at George Washington University, “Egypt’s Judges in a Revolutionary Age”, Carnegie Paper, February 2012 )

“They’ll just want to ask about torture, and we don’t have anything to do with that.” – Anonymous Egyptian judge when invited to meet human rights groups in the United States –
( Quoted in Nathan J Brown, “Egypt’s Judges in a Revolutionary Age”, Carnegie Paper, February 2012 )

“While the issues of future dismissals and reversals of past dismissals (of Judges) have provoked some public debate, judges in general have resisted rehiring the protesting former judges or purging current judicial ranks.”
( Nathan J Brown, “Egypt’s Judges in a Revolutionary Age”, Carnegie Paper, February 2012 )

“Essentially, no, the court ( Egypt’s Supreme Constitutional Court ) is not neutral. It is very much part of the old regime. I think you are going to see people pouring into the streets and demand change.”
( Steven Cook, a senior fellow for Middle Eastern Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations quoted on CNN 15.06.2012 )

“The verdict came as a shock to the families of the victims of the revolution, to the protesters and to all Egyptians who had expected justice.”
( Egypt’s Parliamentary Speaker Saad El-Katatni on the verdict finding six senior police officers not guilty of protesters’ deaths and quoted in Ahram 03.06.2012

“After a transitional period of sixteen months without healing the wounds of the martyrs’ families and sentencing the perpetrators, a sense of delayed justice culminating in the acquittals of the police chiefs has placed justice in Egypt in jeopardy. A bloodless path to democracy can only be ensured where “justice is not only done but also seen to be done””.
( Soha Farouk, “Egypt’s Justice in Jeopardy”, on OpenDemocracy.net 16.06.2012 )

“The SCC (Supreme Constitutional Court) looks as if it has done the full political bidding of the Ancien Régime. It finds its references in the military rulers ‘constitutional declarations’, it dissolves a seemingly adverse Parliament on grounds of inequality that miss the forest for the trees, and it allows a former pillar of the Mubarak regime to run unchallenged. In effect, the SCC whitewashed a presidential candidate who had benefited already from the disqualification by the High Electoral Committee from the competition of leading Egyptian democrats like Ayman Nour from running for the presidency.”
( Chibli Mallat, Presidential Professor of Law at the University of Utah, “Saving Egypt’s Supreme Constiutional Court from Itself”, Ahram Online 15 June 2012 )

“It’s difficult to argue that any judiciary could maintain its sovereignty when a military junta is at the helm.”
( Erin Cunningham, “Are Egypt’s judge’s independent ?” on GlobalPost.com 1 March 2012 )

“This NGO trial has tarnished the image and reputation of Egypt’s judiciary, even more than it was already tarnished… This is a political and diplomatic conflict in which the judiciary was sucked-in,” – judge commenting on the trials of NGO officials in Egypt for receiving foreign funds.
( Judge Assem Abdel Gabbar quoted on Ahram Online 22 March 2012 )

“The current Judicial Authority Law allows 60 different pretexts for interference in judicial affairs from the executive branch of government.”
( Judge Mahmoud Mekky quoted in Jano Charbel, “The People Want A Free Judiciary”, in Egypt Independent )

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