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Dozens of detainees complain of torture in Egypt police stations: NCHR member

Hafez Abu Saeda, a member of the state-appointed National Council for Human Rights, says dozens of detainees arrested in January have been beaten or tortured in police stations and might have faced ill-treatment in jails

Ayat Al-Tawy, Thursday 6 Mar 2014
hafez abu saeda
Hafez Abu Saeda, a member of the state-appointed National Council for Human Rights and head of the Egyptian Organisation for Human Rights (EOHR) (Photo:Al-Ahram)
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Dozens of detained Egyptians say they were subject to police brutality during their arrest or while in police stations, a rights campaigner said after a field visit to a prison near Cairo.

Over one hundred Egyptian detainees, arrested during protests marking the anniversary of the 2011 revolution in January, told human rights campaigner Hafez Abu Saeda that they were tortured while detained at police stations.

Saeda, a member of the semi-governmental National Council for Human Rights (NCHR) which recently investigated allegations of torture in jails and police stations said that 40 out of 119 recent prisoners interviewed by NCHR members at Abu Zaabal prison said they were tortured and beaten in police stations after being arrested.

"They spoke about torture in police stations, and said they were ill-treated, insulted and beaten during the first two days in prison," Abu Saeda told Ahram Online.

"At least four [prisoners] confirmed to us they were tortured in Abu Zaabal," he added.

Detainees in prison also claimed they are kept in prison cells for 23 hours a day and complained of short visits by families as well as the renewal of their detention without referring the matter to prosecutors, according to a statement emailed by NCHR.

The interior ministry and the prison management have firmly denied allegations of torture in prisons. The ministry also advised anyone who has received ill-treatment to file a complaint, saying it takes all concerns seriously.

Abu Zaabal prison officials said [to NHCR investigators] some rough practices such as shaving prisoners' heads or forcing them to undress are necessary measures to ensure they carry no weapons, Abu Saeda added.

"Ï cannot deny there is torture in prisons; there are complaints now before prosecutors and they are looking at the matter," Abu Saeda, who is also head of the Egyptian Organisation for Human Rights (EOHR), a non-governmental organisation, told Ahram Online.

Egyptian authorities mounted a major crackdown on Islamists since the ouster of president Mohamed Morsi last July. But a wave of arrests of non-Islamists and secular-minded activists, along with complaints of torture, have raised alarm among human rights activists.

In a report issued last month, the EOHR expressed "deep concern" over the alleged use of brutality and torture against two Egyptian prominent activists released on Tuesday.

The statement said leftist activists, Khalid El-Sayed and Nagy Kamel -- also detained during protests on the uprising anniversary -- were badly tortured and at least one of them was subject to electric shocks in a police station, before they were transferred to Abu Zaabal prison where the ill-treatment continued. EOHR also said both men were "arbitrarily" arrested.

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