Since the advent of online video hosting, a number of videos have appeared on the internet showing Egyptian police –to put it very mildly– mistreating and humiliating citizens in the most deplorable ways. Most recently, two videos were widely circulated; one showing a man being violated by some sort of a stick (maybe a broom handle), and the other showing a man being repeatedly slapped on the face. I didn’t link to the videos at the time, and I won’t now, for reasons that will hopefully become clear by the end of the post.
First, let us examine the process with which these kinds of videos become available. It is hard to tell who’s doing the recording in every single case, so a generalization wouldn’t be fair. However, in many cases it appears –or at the very least it is plausible– that the incidents are being recorded by the perpetrators’ colleagues (talk about adding insult to injury.) Some videos are then leaked and posted online (I say leaked because I can’t imagine someone being arrogant or stupid enough to post self-implicating videos online, but I could be wrong.) These videos are then further popularized when certain popular blogs link to them (if not being the ones to post them in the first place). And, in the case of the aforementioned incidents, a certain newspaper report, complete with stills from the videos, brought the topic to a wider audience (which reportedly led to an investigation by the general prosecutor.)
As far as I can tell, not a single link in this chain has gone to any length to conceal the identity of the victims. Of course, one doesn’t expect the perpetrators of such heinous crimes to respect their victims’ privacy, but what about everyone else?
Don’t get me wrong; I am totally in favor of making these records available to the public, if not for anything but for raising awareness at the very least; I also applaud the efforts of these bloggers, and the reporters who helped bring this case to the public. However, in the course of raising awareness and fighting for justice, one has to be careful not to trample on the rights of these victims; one should employ all possible means to spare them any extra humiliation.
There are ways to tread that line. In these particular cases, simple video-editing to distort the faces of the victims would’ve done the trick; it would’ve concealed the identity of the victims while still delivering the desired impact.
I have not provided any legal arguments here, partly because I am ignorant of such arguments (and maybe those knowledgeable about the law could enlighten me (us) on that perspective,) but mainly because this is intended as a friendly reminder of sentiments that I believe should be upheld by anyone claiming to defend human rights.