The cycle of brutality: Trigger-happy policemen are the bane of Egypt

The Egyptian police force must love the spotlight as they are on the radar for yet another case of citizen abuse and brutality. On Tuesday, April 19th, hundreds of Egyptians took to the streets of Cairo to protest the killing of a street vendor by an Egyptian police officer.

Hesham Amer, police chief of the New Cairo district, told Aljazeera that three policemen haggled the price of tea with a street vendor, when one of them suddenly shot at three people, including the vendor, killing him. This incident took place in Al Rehab, Cairo. Photos and video clips showing the body of the vendor lying on the ground made rounds on social media, along with clips of the protests.

The tragic incident is the most recent of a series of other cases of police brutality in the country, many of which have provoked several protests. In February, Egyptians took to the streets of Cairo chanting “police are thugs,” as they protested the killing of Mohammed Adel, a young taxi driver, shot dead by a police officer over his fare.

The protests prompted President Abdel el-Sisi to call for a new law, or the amendment of existing legislations, to ensure the police is held accountable for abuses. Besides an apology on behalf of the police force in November 2015, that has been the only step taken to end the culture of impunity that has thrived amongst Egyptian security forces, unchecked and unrestrained.

Allegedly, the police officer in question has been referred to the prosecutor’s office by the Interior Minister, Magdy Abdel-Ghaffar, but one wonders if he will be punished for his crime, as trials are rare in such cases, with very lenient punishment, or an appeal if they ever do occur.

The ‘ridiculousness’ of the Egyptian judicial system is that, while these ‘killer-policemen’ walk out of court scot-free, or with light sentences, innocent citizens, including children and activists, are dealt harsh and unfair judgements. El-Sisi’s government extended the jurisdiction of military courts to try civilians, giving room for not just human rights violations by the Egyptian security forces, but also for corruption and injustice to thrive in the judiciary.

Police brutality was a  major contributing factor in the popular 2011 uprising that ousted Hosni Mubarak from power. The torture and killing of 28-year-old Khalid Saeed by policemen in Egypt raised global awareness on the issue, but that’s all there’s been to it, in the face of countless deaths and protests, police brutality continues thrive. Who will save Egypt from itself?

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