by Susan Sachs
Egypt's Constitution says the state may not detain people unless they are
charged with a crime. Syria's Constitution declares that no citizen shall be
tortured. Jordan's Constitution guarantees freedom of expression in speech
But Egypt has been under emergency law for decades, and tens of thousands of
people have been kept in jail without charge. The use of torture has been
routine in Syria's prisons for years, according to the State Department and
rights groups. And journalists have been arrested for expressing views that
the Jordanian government considered "harmful to national unity."
While members of the Bush administration have described the rights enshrined
in the new Iraqi document as an unprecedented accomplishment for the region,
in fact most Arab constitutions, among them Iraq's constitutions during the
rule of Saddam Hussein, have long included similar guarantees.
Yet in the Middle East and beyond, the most stirring written guarantees of
individual liberties have a way of being set aside by authoritarian rulers
or political expediency. . . .
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Export," The Guardian, February 28, 2003
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