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Torture remains "endemic" in Egypt: Amnesty

International rights group says Egypt's new anti-terrorism law - if passed - could 'erode safeguards' against torture

Ahram Online, Wednesday 14 May 2014
Riot policemen beat a protester
File Photo: Riot policemen beat a protester opposing ousted Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi during clashes along Qasr Al Nil bridge, which leads to Tahrir Square in Cairo, in this January 28, 2013 (Photo: Reuters)
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In its annual report on the use of torture worldwide, the human rights group Amnesty International said that torture was "endemic" in Egypt.

The report from 2014 – surveying torture in 141 countries across every global region – said that if an anti-terrorism law currently being drafted by Egyptian interim authorities should pass, it would "erode the existing safeguards against torture and other ill-treatment."

The aforementioned law was drafted by Egypt's justice ministry and approved by the cabinet in early October.

Two different drafts of the law, which provides harsher penalties to those who engage in terrorist activities, were sent to the country's interim President Adly Mansour as a last step before the law is passed. However, Mansour sent the draft back to the government to put the bill up for debate and to look into recommendations from social and political forces.

Cases of torture and ill-treatment have been reported since Mohamed Morsi was ousted last July and security forces launched a crackdown against the Islamist president's supporters. However, the interior ministry insists that the police force has been reformed since the era of toppled autocrat Hosni Mubarak, under whose rule police brutality was widespread.

The Amnesty report also mentioned two previously documented cases of torture and ill-treatment since the 25 January 2011 revolution – the use of torture as a weapon against protesters by security forces and the army and the forced "virginity tests" that were undertaken by the army on protesting women in March 2011.

Amnesty, which describes itself as a group that aims to "campaign to end grave abuses of human rights", also mentioned in its report general features of torture in the Middle East.

A common feature of torture in the Middle East and North Africa, according to the report, is the "extent to which governments have restored to torture and ill-treatment to clamp down on dissent and protesters or to respond to perceived threats against national security."

 

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