Prison torture claims are 'fabrications': Government official

Ahram Online, Wednesday 2 Jul 2014

Egyptian prisons are like hotels and claims of torture have nothing to do with reality or logic, says interior ministry official

(Photo: Al-Ahram)

Allegations of torture and sexual assault inside Egyptian prisons have been dismissed as “fabrications” by an aide to the interior minister.

Widespread claims of physical assault and rape "have nothing to do with reality or logic,"Abdel-Fattah Osman, head of the ministry's public relations and media department, told ONTV satellite channel.

"All the incidents circulating on social media are presented to the minister," Osman said, "even those that are trivial, made up or have nothing to do with reality or logic."

Egyptian jails have become "like hotels," he added.

Allegations of torture inside prisons have increased since a security crackdown on supporters of ousted Islamist president Mohamed Morsi and secular dissidents.

The interior ministry, which is responsible for the police, has regularly denied all allegations of mistreatment smuggled out of prisons and circulated on social media and news outlets.

"This talk did not spread until the imprisonment of political activists who are experienced in social media and the mechanisms of raising these topics," Osman said. He did not elaborate.

Osman said there was a disciplinary system applied to prisoners who violate the rules and any complaints can be voiced via legal channels.

A state human rights body, the National Council of Human Rights, has visited a number of prisons in the past weeks to check on the abuse allegations. They have not confirmed allegations of torture or sexual assault. Comments by some members of the body, carried on local media outlets, said prisoners complained about the schedule of visits and the lack of exercise time.

A report published last month by London-based human rights group Amnesty International said that torture in Egypt remained "endemic." The group said there were mounting reports of torture and other ill-treatment of detainees that "harken back to the most abusive periods under Hosni Mubarak." Some have forcibly disappeared in a military prison where they were tortured, including with electric shocks and being hung from doors, Amnesty said.

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