Letter: Human rights groups are not always what they seem

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Sir: Robert Fisk is right to criticise the Egyptian security forces. After completing an investigation of human rights abuse in Cairo earlier this year, Physicians for Human Rights (UK) concluded that, since Anwar Sadat's assassination, the security forces have been guilty of institutionalised intimidation of Egyptians through arbitrary, and often illegal, detention of civilians, and the routine use of torture as a part of the interrogation process.

We challenged a government spokeswoman over the conspicuous absence of any successful prosecution of members of the security forces, despite the overwhelming testimonial evidence of torture. She denied the existence of systematic torture and claimed that no security personnel have ever been satisfactorily identified - a statistic clearly not unrelated to the universal but illegal practice of blindfolding every prisoner during questioning.

The Egyptian Organisation for Human Rights, which has done much to alert the rest of the world to the criminal activities of the security forces, must be supported for its even-handed condemnation of violence from whichever quarter it comes.

Yours sincerely,

PETER HALL

Honorary Secretary, Physicians

for Human Rights (UK)

London, NW3

23 December

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