|Al-Ahram Weekly On-line
3 - 9 May 2001
|Published in Cairo by AL-AHRAM established in 1875||Current issue | Previous issue | Site map|
Think of the futureSir- Your features article "Deep blue sea", published last week, came as a shocking reminder that the wonders of the Red Sea are in fact perishable, and that in spite of efforts taken to preserve nature, the lure of good business is usually stronger. The Aquarium Fish Project may, in fact, be an environmental disaster, but how much more so than tourism development in Sinai?
After a 10-year absence, I revisited some of my favourite snorkelling sites in Sharm Al-Sheikh, and was shocked to find them a fraction as wonderful as they used to be. Particularly shocking was the area of Ras Nosrani, previously an area which could only be reached by jeep and made up of isolated coves, colourful reefs and abundant fish. This time around, houses under construction dominated the beach and the calm was roughly disturbed by the sound of bulldozers. There were much less fish and floating in their midst were the remains of a ceramics carton.
The form tourism development has taken in places such as Sharm Al-Sheikh may look lucrative now, but what happens when the rest of the coast looks like Na'ama Bay: a beach taken over by five-star hotels that could have been built anywhere else in the world and water that is no longer that crystal-blue hue, devoid of fish and interspersed with gray mounds that were once colourful corals?
Seeking a voiceSir- I am writing on behalf of foreign prisoners serving 20-year sentences in Egyptian prisons for drug offenses. We would like to inform you of the unacceptable and illegal practices taking place against inmates serving these sentences.
Until 1995, convicts who had served 20-year sentences were set free without any obligations. This practice has since been abolished, without further notice, and the system has changed into some uncertain and ambiguous procedure. Some convicts are delayed release from six months to one year without any reason. Yet, in some cases, those who have outside connections have been set free.
Prior to 1986, all convicts who had 20-year sentences only served 15 years, but this practice has been completely abolished. The main problem that we are now facing is that we do not know who to ask for help. We asked the prison governor. We were told that he has nothing to do with the issue and it is a Prisons Authority matter. We wrote the Prisons Authority, but they said it is the job of the Narcotics Department. We inquired at the Narcotics Department, but they sent us to the National Security Council.
What will be the fate of those who have completed their sentences, [but lack] financial support? We truly believe and trust in the Egyptian Law, if it were truly being practised, but unfortunately many officers take the law into their own hands.
An Al-Ahram article published on 22 December 1998 says that [authorities] were ordered to "pay amends in the amount of LE5,000 to Egyptian Saad Hassan El-Asar, who was kept without reason for six months in prison after the completion of his 20-year sentence." The case was filed against the director of the Prisons Authority.
Many inmates just need a little help and a second chance to rebuild their lives. Not every first offender is a criminal. Twenty years behind bars is not a joke. Many inmates are sick and die, become paralysed and infected with many kinds of diseases. There is a law in Egypt known as "sick amnesty." Sad to say, it is not in practice, so why is there such a law?
All over the world there is a reduction of prison sentences through early parole, for good behaviour. In Egypt, this is not the practice; good and bad inmates are treated the same. We beg you to use your good office to render justice to these difficult and horrendous conditions.
Mohamed Razik Mohamed
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