Egypt’s hated police agency disbanded

Egypt’s Interior Minister Mansour
al-Issawi has dissolved its internal security agency, which had been blamed for
decades of human rights abuses.

The State Security Investigation
Service (SSIS) will be replaced with a new “National Security Force”.

The new agency would be tasked with
“protecting the domestic front and combating terrorism”, Mr Issawi
said.

The actions of the SSIS helped
ignite the popular uprising that overthrew President Hosni Mubarak last month.

Its agents were accused of using
violence to try to stop the protests in Cairo’s Tahrir Square.

At least 365 people died in the 18
days of unrest.

Earlier this month, protesters
raided the agency’s main headquarters and offices in several cities, including
Cairo and Alexandria, after reports that documents were being destroyed. They
found piles of shredded paper.

The head of the SSIS has been
arrested and is facing investigation for ordering the killing of
anti-government demonstrators.

 Another 47 of its personnel have been detained
on suspicion of destroying evidence.

The new National Security Force
would “serve the nation without interfering in the lives of citizens or
their right to exercise their political rights”, Mr Issawi as said.

The force would be tasked with
“protecting the domestic front and combating terrorism” in line with
the constitution and the principles of human rights, he added.

Officers for the new agency will to
be selected in the next few days.

The SSIS, which had at least
100,000 employees, was notorious for using any means to maintain Mr Mubarak’s
grip on power over three decades.

Piles of shredded documents were
found inside the offices of the SSIS

Human rights groups have documented
hundreds of cases of torture and abuse by SSIS agents, as well as arbitrary
arrests and detentions.

Their torture methods included
suspending victims by the wrists and ankles; beatings with metal rods; using
electric shocks; and sexual assault, including sodomy.

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