Human Rights Watch (HRW) on Wednesday called
on Egypt to crack down on human trafficking in the Sinai Peninsula.
In a report entitled 'Egypt: End Sinai Nightmare for Migrants,' HRW highlights the plight of African migrants, especially Eritreans who are often detained by human-trafficking networks while on their way to next-door Israel.
"Human Rights Watch has documented the trafficking of the mostly sub-Saharan migrants and asylum seekers in Sinai, who are tortured and sexually assaulted to press their relatives for ransom," the report reads.
The number of migrants who were "tortured, raped and otherwise sexually assaulted" has risen in the past two years, HRW cites informed sources as saying. The report goes on to state that Mubarak-era authorities had denied the existence of trafficking networks, and calls on Egypt's current administration to combat the phenomenon.
"[President Mohamed] Morsi's government should distance itself from the policies of the Mubarak regime and take the rights of victims of trafficking into account in planning law enforcement operations in Sinai," the report quotes Joe Stork, HRW's deputy director for the Middle East and North Africa, as saying.
Egypt already has tough anti-trafficking laws, the group concedes in its report, but often fails to implement them, especially when foreign nationals are involved.
"Human trafficking prosecutions are rare, according to the groups working most closely on the issue, and investigations have focused solely on cases of foreign domestic workers or Egyptians being trafficked abroad," the report states.