Egypt claims will sack 'incompetent' policemen after police shooting

Egypt claims will sack 'incompetent' policemen after police shooting
3 min read
20 February, 2016
Egyptian policemen who do not understand their "occupational duty" will face the axe, the interior minister has claimed, days after an officer shot dead a man in the street.
Hundreds of mourners turned out for the funeral of the slain driver [Getty]
Egypt's interior ministry has announced it will begin a campaign to sack "incompetent" policemen, as anger mounts over rampant police brutality.

Interior minister Magdy Abdel Ghaffar claimed on Saturday that an internal review of policemen will begin and that any policeman who breaks the law will be prosecuted.

"The ministry is pursuing internal reforms to eliminate elements who do not realise their occupational duty," Abdel Ghaffar said in a statement.

"We are examining all laws concerning policemen's treatment of citizens to make the necessary amendments aimed at improving performance," he added.

However, policemen in Egypt are rarely prosecuted or punished, and when they are, their cases often go into judicial limbo, though the Egyptian government is sometimes forced to take action under popular pressure.

Last week, Egypt's highest court reversed a 15-year jail term handed down to a policeman who had been convicted of shooting female activist Shaimaa al-Sabbagh dead in the street.

Her death sparked international outrage, particularly since part of the incident was caught on film and quickly spread across social media.

The Egyptian government's move now comes after hundreds of demonstrators gathered outside Cairo's police headquarters on Thursday evening chanting: "The police are thugs," after an officer killed a driver over a fare dispute.

The policeman shot dead the tuk-tuk driver in an argument and was forced to flee a mob of local people who attempted to lynch him. The policeman was later arrested.
Rights group accuse the Egyptian president of enabling such a climate of impunity for security services and of presiding over a police state.
      Widespread police brutality has sparked fury [Getty]
On Friday before marching to Cairo police headquarters, hundreds of mourners turned out for the funeral of the driver, Mohammad Ali Sayed Ismail.

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi has himself intervened, telling the interior minister on Friday to crack down on police abuses and gave 15 days for necessary amendments to laws to be proposed.

Sisi said that "irresponsible acts by some members of the police force" should be dealt with on an individual basis and those responsible should be held to account."
Yet local and international rights group accuse the Egyptian president, who came to power in a military coup, of enabling such a climate of impunity for security services and of presiding over a police state.

The incident comes amid mounting public anger over police brutality. Last week, thousands of doctors held a rare protest against police they say beat two doctors at a Cairo hospital for refusing to falsify medical records.

Earlier this month, the body of a missing Italian graduate student was found on the outskirts of Cairo showing signs of torture, including electrocution - the injuries bore the hallmarks of Egyptian security services.

The Interior Ministry has denied allegations by human rights groups that police commit widespread human rights violations and has vowed to punish any violations.

Ismail's killing has sparked fury from Egyptians.

"Mounting public anger against police is a sign that another revolution is on the way. Police excesses are what fuelled the 2011 uprising," a political analyst told The New Arab.

"Even if Police want to bring an end to abuses - they will not be able to - because these practices are deeply ingrained in the security services," he added.

Blogger Zeinobia asked: "Do we need an 'Egyptian lives matter' campaign again?"