State-appointed body finds no evidence of rape at women's prison

Ahram Online , Wednesday 9 Jul 2014

National Council for Human Rights investigates allegations of torture and rape by Muslim Brotherhood prisoners at Al-Qanater women's prison

Al-Qanater prison main gate
Al-Qanater prison main gate in Cairo, Egypt (Photo: AL-Ahram)

A delegation from the National Council for Human Rights, whose members are appointed by the government, paid a visit on Monday to Al-Qanater women's prison following allegations that Muslim Brotherhood detainees have been tortured and raped.

According to the members of the delegation, the Brotherhood women prisoners said they were not subjected to any kind of rape but were physically assaulted by criminal inmates and prison warders in June. 

"We asked the Muslim Brotherhood women prisoners if they were subjected to any sort of rape and they denied that they were raped but said they were physically assaulted by prison warders and criminal inmates on 10 and 11 June," George Ishak, a member of the delegation, told ONTV channel on Tuesday. 

Recently, several pro-Brotherhood websites claimed that pro-Morsi and Brotherhood women prisoners had been subjected to rape during their detention. 

"During the visit we met Karima El-Serafy, the student who is accused of smuggling documents from the presidential palace and whose father used to work for Mohamed Morsi, as well students Sarah Khaled and Yasmine Abdel-Moneim. The three girls said that they were treated well until 10 June," said delegation member Dr Niveen Mossaad on her official Facebook page. 

Mossaad said that a fight started between Brotherhood prisoners and prison warders after they were late returning to their cells after a recess. The fight also involved criminal inmates, she added. 

According to Mossaad, after the fight some of the Brotherhood girls were transferred to another prison. 

Yasmine Abdel-Moneim and Sarah Khaled were sentenced to two and a half years in jail for illegal protesting. Sara Khaled, a dentistry student, says that she was arrested for wearing a Rabaa pin in her veil, while Yasmine Abdel-Moneim, who is a student at Al-Azhar University, says she was arrested while leaving Al-Azhar campus on 28 December after finishing her exams. 

The physical assaults against Sarah Khaled and other girls were brought to public view after photos of Khaled appeared online. She was being transferred to court last month with a swollen face and bruised arms. 

Her lawyer, human rights activist Negad El-Borai, reported that Khaled attended her appeal after the assault with bruises all over her face. He demanded that she be released and transferred to hospital. 

Last week, former MP and political activist Mostafa El-Naggar wrote an op-ed in Al-Masry Al-Youm daily asking for Khaled's release, condemning her arrest for allegedly for wearing a Rabaa pin, and highlighting how she was assaulted by criminal inmates and prison warders. "Even if she was guilty, where are her rights as a prisoner in the state's prison?" he said in his op-ed.

George Ishak made it clear that the delegation's visit was not for a certain group of prisoners. "We made a tour of all the prison's wards, its workshops and the hospital, but we focused on the testimonies of Brotherhood prisoners because of the rape allegations," Ishak told ONTV. 

On the other hand, the women activists arrested and detained last month during an anti-protest law rally to the presidential palace, including activist Sanaa Seif and human rights lawyer Yara Sallam, refused to meet the delegation. 

"We asked to meet those girls but they refused because they have a specific stand against the council, which is their right," Ishak said.

Renowned activist Mona Seif, the sister of Sanaa Seif, revealed on her official Facebook account that her sister and other activists detained at the anti-protest law rally had refused to meet the delegation. 

"It was not reasonable or logical that someone would visit a prisoner who was being treated in a good way in detention to ask him about how things are in prison," Mona Seif said on behalf of her detained sister. 

Mona Seif added that her sister had told her that some of the Islamist women prisoners who complained about abuse had been transferred to other prisons.

Seif also slammed the National Council for Human Rights for not standing with activists and protesters arrested on the third anniversary of the revolution who were subjected to abuse in detention.

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