EOHR: 81 Died Under Torture in Police Custody in 5 Years

The Egyptian Organization for Human Rights (EOHR) said it reported 156 cases of torture and 81 deaths of detained individuals in police custody from 2000 to 2005. The organization suspects that deaths may have been caused by torture with electric shocks, beatings and sexual abuse. The organization released its report on Thursday September 7, 2006, which carried the title” Police Custody in Egypt: Torture, Death and Unstopping Repression”. While the report in its first chapter reviewed some aspects of the legislative and legal system which regulate the crime of torture in Egypt; the phenomenon of torture and its ensuing brutalities was covered in the three remaining chapters of the report, including the number of death cases between April 2004 and July 2005, when 21 citizens were tortured till death in police custody. The names of these victims were mentioned in the report.

The report also reviewed the names of 41 other victims of torture. Between April 2005 and April 2006, the report stated 38 cases of torture and abuse in police custody, which included beatings and burnings with cigarettes and stripping victims off their clothes, as well as beating with water hoses and dragging victims on the ground. The organization also reported that 20 persons were subjected to ill treatment and illegal internment within police custody.

The report called for rescinding the Emergency Law and recommended the creation of a judiciary police unit affiliated with the Ministry of Justice to monitor cases of police brutality. The report also called for the government to join the UN International Charter on Preventing Torture, and to provide the Public Prosecution with needed authority to monitor prisons and police stations periodically. IN addition, the report also suggested the finding of an independent investigation mechanism which embraces judges, lawyers and doctors to disclose torture cases and hold accountable those who commit torture. It also makes it incumbent on the authorities to cooperate with human rights organizations and take seriously the reports submitted to the Attorney General and the Minister of Interior, as well as giving the human rights agencies access to prisons and police stations.

In an exclusive statement to Ikhwanweb, Director of Hisham Mubarak Centre for Human Rights, Saif el Islam Hamad said that this report reflects the deteriorating state of freedoms in Egypt, adding that what was mentioned in the report just a tip of an iceburg and “a small part of the sufferings the Egyptians endure in  police custody not to mention the deteriorating conditions of the prisons in Egypt”, he said.

He added that Egyptians associate police stations with humiliation, beatings and torture, so much so that the mere summoning of a person to the police station is seen by his family as a disaster due to the inhuman treatment the people by police officers. Hamad attributed this inhuman treatment to the fact that the police officers in Egypt are taught that the protection of the regime takes priority over the people’s security and even lives, citing the Bani Mazar case in which many people were tortured to confess crimes they didn’t commit.