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Torture and impunity continue in Egypt: Amnesty

SCAF and Morsi took no steps to eradicate torture, according to a report by Amnesty International

Amer Soltan, London, Friday 24 May 2013
Torture and impunity continue in Egypt
Egyptian riot police beat protesters and dismantle a small tent city set up to commemorate revolutionary martyrs in Cairo's Tahrir Square (Photo: AP)
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Amnesty International has criticised what it describes as the continuity of torture in Egypt and a failure to punish those responsible for abuses.

In its annual Egypt report, the human rights group said that torture policies, discrimination and impunity from punishment persisted in Egypt in 2012.

“No legal or policy reforms were implemented to eradicate torture under either the SCAF (Supreme Council of Armed Forces) or President Morsi’s administration,” the report stated.

The dissolved People’s Assembly discussed harsher penalties for torture but it did not introduce them before its dissolution.

“Torture and other ill-treatment continued and security forces acted with impunity,” stated the report.

The report echoed Egyptian human rights activists and opposition critics, who have brought attention to numerous cases of alleged torture by police and security services since the start of the revolution.

The report covers the period from January to December 2012.

Amnesty quoted an Egyptian non-governmental organisation as saying that 88 persons were subject to torture or other ill-treatment by police during President Morsi’s first hundred days in power.

The report claims protesters arrested by riot police or the military were subjected to severe beatings and electric shocks in custody, including in Tora Prison, south of Cairo.

It adds that detainees in the prison suffered from overcrowding, inadequate clothing and lack of medical care.

Amnesty confirmed its delegates visited Egypt several times in 2012 to conduct human rights research.

The report also criticised the new constitution for allowing military trials of civilians, which it described as “inherently unfair.”

The dissolved People’s Assembly amended the Military Justice Code in April 2012, stripping the president of his authority to refer civilians to military court. But it did not amend articles giving military courts jurisdiction to try civilians.

Former president Hosni Mubarak’s life sentence in June 2012 was a historic step towards combating impunity, the report states, but “no members of the SCAF were held to account for the violations committed during their rule.”

The international watchdog expressed concerns over the possible legalisation of discrimination against minorities in Egypt.

The new Constitution did not explicitly prohibit discrimination on the basis of race, potentially affecting minorities such as Nubians.”

The report also warns against religious discrimination despite the constitutional guarantee of religious freedom. 

 The constitution limited the freedom to religions officially recognised as “divine,” a division “potentially affecting Baha’is and Shi’a Muslims.”

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