World Bulletin / News Desk
Human rights activist group Amnesty International has recorded evidence of a sharp deterioration in human rights in Egypt one year on from the coup that ousted elected president Mohamed Morsi.
Noting a surge in arbitrary arrests and detentions, Amnesty International said the number of people detained are at least 16,000, quoting an official estimate published by the Associated Press in March, of whom a minimum of 80 have died in custody according to the Egyptian Center for Economic and Social Rights initiative WikiThawra.
WikiThawra,which also states that more than 40,000 people were detained or indicted between July 2013 and mid-May 2014.
Among four prisoners who died in Mattereya Police station since April 2014 was Ahmed Ibrahim, who repeatedly complained about having difficulty breathing due to poor ventilation in his overcrowded police cell and being denied medical care. Amnesty reported that he had died hours after being denied an ambulance which was called by his father following a phone call at 1am on June 15, in which he told his father that he was dying. His body was reportedly covered in blue bruises and cuts on his neck suggested he may have been tortured.
“Egypt’s notorious state security forces –currently known as National Security- are back and operating at full capacity, employing the same methods of torture and other ill-treatment used during the darkest hours of the Mubarak era,” said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Deputy Director of the Middle East and North Africa Programme at Amnesty International.
“Despite repeated promises by current and former presidents to respect the rule of law, over the past year flagrant violations have continued at an astonishing rate, with security forces effectively granted a free rein to commit human rights violations with impunity.”
Torture as a practice to gain confessions, particularly from Muslim Brotherhood members, is a tactic used by both the Egyptian military and police in premises belonging to the National Security Agency, police stations and unofficial places of detention, Amnesty International reported.
Electric shocks, rape, handcuffing, suspending detainees from open doors and another hanging method, known as “the grill” - which involves handcuffing hands and legs to a rod and suspending it between two opposite chairs until the detainee’s legs go numb - are common torture methods that were also used during the era of former president Hosni Mubarek before he stepped down during the 2011 revolution.
“They cut my shirt, blindfolded me with it and handcuffed me from behind…they beat me with batons all over my body, particularly on the chest, back and face…Then they put two wires in my left and right little fingers and gave me electric shocks four or five times,” a 23-year-old detainee identified as M.R.S, a student who was arrested in February and held for 47 days said.
“The national security officer caught my testicle and started to squeeze it… I was screaming from the pain and bent my legs to protect my testicles then he inserted his fingers in my anus… he was wearing something plastic on his fingers… he repeated this five times,” he added.
He also told Amnesty Internation that he was beaten on the penis with a stick and then raped repeatedly by one or more security guards before being forced to sing a song in support of the Egyptian army “Teslam Al Ayadi”.
18-year-old Mahmoud Mohamed Ahmed Hussein, who is still in prison, was also arrested on the third anniversary of the 25 January 2011 revolution. He said he was blindfolded and forced into “confessing” to possessing explosives and belonging to the Muslim Brotherhood after being tortured by national security officers.
“Mubarak’s security forces at least knew who they were targeting but now they arrest people randomly,” said one detainee who was place in arbitary detention without charges or access to a lawyer or family for 96 days at Al Galaaa military camp in Al-Azouly Prison.
Hatem Mohie Eldin, a 17-year-old student in Alexandria, told Amnesty International he was arrested by the police randomly on 27 May as he returned home after school and beated for five days in an unknown location without contact with his family or lawyers.
Since January 2014 Egypt has recommended the death penalty for 1,247 men, pending the Grand Mufti’s religious opinion, and upheld death sentences against 247 individuals in what many in the international community deem to be unfair trials, the report stated.
“Egypt’s criminal justice system has demonstrated that it is unable or unwilling to deliver justice with disastrous consequences,” said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui.
“On every level Egypt is failing in terms of human rights, it is up to the new government led by President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi to turn the tide by launching independent, impartial investigations into all allegations of human rights violations and send a strong message that flouting human rights will not be tolerated and will no longer go unpunished.”Last Mod: 04 Temmuz 2014, 16:23