Egyptian committee demands Amnesty's report on torture, secret prisons

Ahram Online, Thursday 12 Jun 2014

Officials want an Amnesty International report from last May on the forced disappearance, prolonged detention and torture of dozens at secret prisons

A state-affiliated fact-finding committee investigating the violent events that have taken place since Mohamed Morsi's ouster last summer has sent a letter to Amnesty International requesting information that the human rights organisation has published regarding torture and "enforced disappearance" in Egypt.

In a statement issued on Thursday, the committee said that this is not the first letter to be sent to Amnesty, explaining that a similar request in May received no response.

Former interim president Adly Mansour formed the fact-finding committee in December to investigate violent events following the 30 June 2013 protests that led to Morsi's ouster.

Amnesty International issued a report in May claiming that dozens of civilians subjected to enforced disappearance have been held without charge for months and are facing torture at a secret detention centre known as Al-Azouly prison, located in a military camp.

The report also claimed that Egyptian lawyers and activists have a list of 30 names of those held in that prison.

Last week, Amnesty issued another testimony written by Haitham Ghoniem, Egyptian human rights activist and researcher at the Egyptian Commission for Rights and Freedoms, who says he has been closely following cases of unjust detainment and torture at Al-Azouly prison.

Egypt's interim authorities have frequently stressed that the country has no "political detainees", affirming that those currently imprisoned have been detained pending court or prosecution orders or have received sentences from the respective courts.

The government has launched a widespread crackdown on Islamists since last year's ouster of Morsi. Thousands of his supporters have been jailed and hundreds others killed in street violence.

Islamist militant attacks on security forces has also left more than 500 officers and soldiers killed.

But the arrest of many non-Islamist protesters along with several prominent secular-minded activists has fuelled anxiety among some that the country is returning to the oppressive policies common under long-time leader Hosni Mubarak, whose 30-year-rule was ended by the 2011 protests against police abuse and general ill-treatment at the hands of security forces.

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