Thursday, November 28, 2013

Egypt: British FCO Failed to Assist British Tourist Raped by Egyptian Military Officer in Sinai

According to Sky News, British diplomats at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) failed to effectively assist a British woman in May 2011, who had just been raped by a military officer in Egypt when she came to them pleading for help, a report reveals.


The crime victim was attacked at a military checkpoint while traveling in the Sinai region in May 2011, three months after the overthrow of former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. 
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) has been forced to apologize and pay compensation to the victim after being found guilty of "maladministration and injustice" by the Parliamentary Ombudsman.

The report found that officials had failed to help the woman "when she was at her most vulnerable" point.  The victim was attacked at a checkpoint while traveling in the Sinai region.

A man in plainclothes, who the victim believed to be an Egyptian military officer, told her she would not be able to continue her journey until the next day then took her to a place where he said she could sleep, although the man later raped her. 

COMMENT: When she contacted officials at the British Embassy in Cairo they failed to explain clearly how they could help her. 

The report strongly criticized the embassy staff's failure to accompany her to report the attack and the fact they ignored her fears she could be arrested or even killed if she made a complaint against a military officer to the police, who were under the control of the military at the time.

Moreover, embassy staff did not arrange a medical examination or offer to accompany her to a hospital and seemingly had no knowledge of  the availability of a treatment which can prevent HIV infection after the virus has entered the body.

When the victim went to report the attack to the tourist police she found herself in a room with a number of unidentified and armed plainclothes officers, a situation she described as "extremely intimidating."

Later, when interviewed by an officer she was asked to re-enact her ordeal, including being forced to repeat the positions into which her attacker had forced her.

The victim also complained to the FCO about the way she had been treated with "impatience, rudeness and a serious lack of sensitivity" by its staff.

Surprisingly, the victim's complaint was initially rejected until the human rights organization, Redress, and then Parliamentary Ombudsman became directly involved in her ill-treatment.

Simon Fraser, the Permanent Under-Secretary and Head of the Diplomatic Service, said they had "unreservedly" apologized to the woman and taken steps to ensure there was no repeat of her substandard treatment at the hands of diplomatic staff.

Additionally, the rape victim was paid £1,000 (US$1,624.70) in compensation as a result of her unprofessional treatment.