Egypt's NCHR highlights human rights violations in jails, calls for govt action

Ahram Online , Sunday 3 Jul 2016

The annual report by the semi-governmental human rights council reports that three new fatalities have occurred due to torture in police custody

Mohamed Fayek
The head of Egypt's semi-governmental National Council for Human Rights (NCHR) Mohamed Fayek (Al-Ahram)

The head of Egypt's semi-governmental National Council for Human Rights (NCHR) Mohamed Fayek cast light on Sunday on human rights violations against prisoners and detainees, calling on authorities to remedy the situation.

On the sidelines of a press conference held to release the council's 11th annual report, Fayek said there were three new fatalities caused by torture in police stations, Al-Ahram Arabic website reported.

Fayek also stressed that police torture is a prevalent issue and that the allegations are repeatedly denied.

"This problem requires all laws on this issue to be reviewed," Fayek said.

Another 20 people have died while behind bars due to deteriorating health conditions caused by detention facilities, he added, stressing that regulations relating to human rights also need to be reviewed.

The Egyptian government has insisted that torture incidents in police stations or prisons are individual acts by rogue officers, saying it does not tolerate such acts.

In recent months, a number of officers have stood trial on charges of committing torture against citizens with several convicted.Prisons and detention facilities, according to the NCHR report, are overcrowded by 150% and 300% respectively, which results in insufficient and ineffective medical services.

The report also shed light on other basic rights that it said have deteriorated such as sleeping spaces and the food served to detainees and inmates.

Prison congestion also leads to the occasional cancellation of visits, the report stated.

While police usually ensure medical treatment for detainees who have critical health conditions, the report highlights, the problem remains for those detained while being investigated or facing charges. According to the report, this represents a separate punishment.

Fayek also said that clear regulations for arrests have to be set in order to deter forced disappearances, which are usually blamed on the interior ministry.

Forced disappearances are defined as people who are believed to have been arrested by security agencies but not referred to prosecution as stipulated by the constitution.

Meanwhile, the report also recommended the reduction of death penalty sentences as much as possible, proposing its use only in cases of capital crimes.

Hundreds of defendants were sentenced to death over the past three years on terrorism related charges. However, most sentences were overturned upon appeal.

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