Public Statement - The Law Society of Upper Canada expresses grave concerns about the death of lawyer Karim Hamdy in Egypt

TORONTO, Dec. 7, 2015 /CNW/ - The Law Society of Upper Canada is gravely concerned about the death of lawyer Karim Hamdy in Egypt.

According to reports, on 22 February 2015, Karim Hamdy was arrested during a raid on his home by armed security forces. Security forces advised Karim Hamdy's mother that they were taking him to the Marg Police Station; however, his friends and his lawyer did not find him there. Following a long search, they discovered he had been taken to Mattareya Police Station.

Once at the police station, Karim Hamdy was accused of belonging to a terrorist group, protesting without authorization, possessing weapons and using them against the police during protests. He denied the accusations and advised the prosecutor that he had been tortured by the police in order to obtain a videotaped confession. Reports indicate that the prosecutor, instead of investigating Karim Hamdy's claim of torture, sent him back to the police station where he was subjected to further torture. On 24 February 2015, the following day, Karim Hamdy was due to return to the prosecutor's office for further questioning, however he never arrived. Karim Hamdy's lawyers went to the police station to look for him and discovered that he had died.

Reports indicate that medical officials who examined his body reported signs of torture, including ten broken ribs and bleeding in the brain. Additionally, an eyewitness who viewed his body at the morgue described it as being covered in red and brown bruises, with blue marks around his eyes and a broken right arm. 

Following a complaint by the Bar Association to the prosecutor's office, a lieutenant colonel and a major of the National Security agency were charged with Karim Hamdy's torture and murder; however, it is the Law Society's understanding that this trial is taking place in secret as a result of a gag order by the state prosecutor. A secret trial is contrary to the rule of law and cannot be condoned.

Reports indicate that on the same day Karim Hamdy died, another lawyer detained at Mattareya Police Station, Emad el-Attar, died due to poor ventilation in an overcrowded cell and denial of medical care. It has also come to the Law Society's attention that on 10 April 2015, lawyer Imam Afifi, who was allegedly subject to torture at Mattareya police station, died 11 days after being transferred to hospital with serious head trauma.

The Law Society of Upper Canada urges the government of the Arab Republic of Egypt to comply with Articles 6, 7, and 10 (i) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ratified by Egypt in 1982):

Article 6.1:

Every human being has the inherent right to life. This right shall be protected by law. No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his life.

Article 7:

No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. In particular, no one shall be subjected without his free consent to medical or scientific experimentation.

Article 10.1:

All persons deprived of their liberty shall be treated with humanity and with respect for the inherent dignity of the human person.

Article 12 of the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment of Punishment reads:

Each State Party shall ensure that its competent authorities proceed to a prompt and impartial investigation, wherever there is reasonable ground to believe that an act of torture has been committed in any territory under its jurisdiction.

The Law Society also requests that the government of the Arab Republic of Egypt comply with Articles 16 and 23 of the United Nations' Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers

Article 16 states:

Governments shall ensure that lawyers (a) are able to perform all of their professional functions without intimidation, hindrance, harassment or improper interference; (b) are able to travel and to consult with their clients freely both within their own country and abroad; and (c) shall not suffer, or be threatened with, prosecution or administrative, economics or other sanctions for any action taken in accordance with recognized professional duties, standards and ethics.

Moreover, Article 23 states:

Lawyers like other citizens are entitled to freedom of expression, belief, association and assembly. In particular, they shall have the rights to take part in public discussion of matters concerning the law, the administration of justice and the promotion and protection of human rights and to join or form local, national or international organizations and attend their meetings, without suffering professional restrictions by reason of their lawful action or their membership in a lawful organization.

The Law Society urges the government of Egypt to:


guarantee in all circumstances the physical and psychological integrity of human rights lawyers in Egypt;


ensure that the trial related to the death of Karim Hamdy is public, impartial and independent;


ensure that all lawyers can carry out their peaceful and legitimate activities without fear of physical violence or other human rights violations;


ensure in all circumstances respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in accordance with international human rights standards and international instruments.

*The Law Society of Upper Canada is the governing body for more than 49,000 lawyers and 7,400 paralegals in the province of Ontario, Canada. The Treasurer is the head of the Law Society.

The mandate of the Law Society is to govern the legal profession in the public interest by upholding the independence, integrity and honour of the legal profession for the purpose of advancing the cause of justice and the rule of law.

SOURCE The Law Society of Upper Canada

For further information: Susan Tonkin, Communications Advisor - Media Relations, at 416-947-7605 or The Law Society of Upper Canada, Osgoode Hall, 130 Queen Street West, Toronto, ON, M5H 2N6,


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