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Egypt prosecutor orders inquiry into detention centres after torture reports

The general prosecution visited nine prisons in Cairo and Giza where violations were reported

Ahram Online , Wednesday 8 Apr 2015
Abu Zabal Prison
Abu Zabal Prison (Photo: Ahram Online archive)

Egypt’s prosecutor general has ordered continuous investigations and surprise visits to the ‎country’s prisons, a statement published by his office said on Wednesday amid claims of human rights violations.

The general prosecutor, Hisham Barakat, has commissioned members of the prosecution ‎‎“to continue practicing the authorities granted to them by the law and to continue ‎their investigations of prisons and detention centers” around the country. ‎

The top prosecutor ordered an investigation into a report submitted to his office earlier ‎this month by the National Council of Human Rights about violations against ‎prisoners in Abu Zaabal prison on the outskirts of Cairo. The results of the ‎investigations are yet to be announced.‎

On 6 April the general prosecution had visited nine prisons and all police stations in both ‎Cairo and Giza after which Barakat ordered investigations on all the reported ‎violations and observations, the statement added. The top prosecutor also ‎demanded that the Ministry of Interior make similar visits and report back to him on the ‎procedures taken in that matter. ‎

Members of the NCHR said that prisoners are badly beaten, not allowed access to ‎toilets, potable water or given enough food, after visiting one of the country’s oldest ‎prisons, in response to a complaint filed by jailed journalist Ahmed Gamal Ziyada, ‎who claimed he was tortured. ‎

Allegations of torture in detention cells and during interrogation processes have ‎prevailed in jails and prison stations since the era of ousted president Hosni Mubarak, ‎and have not stopped even after 2011 revolution. However, reports about torture in ‎prisons and detention centres have surfaced again in the past few months, and before ‎the former Minister of Interior Mohamed Ibrahim was moved from his post in March. ‎

A protest law, primarily issued in 2013 to bring back stability to the turbulent streets, led to the ‎jailing of thousands of supporters of ousted Islamist president Mohamed Morsi, non-Islamist government ‎opponents, and students demonstrating on their campuses.‎

The interior ministry under Ibrahim repeatedly denied all torture allegations.‎

Egypt's ministry of interior on Sunday called on citizens to report police abuses, a ‎move that comes amid continuing documentation of alleged human rights violations in ‎places of police detention.‎

On Wednesday, the top prosecutor referred two police officers to criminal court on ‎charges of torturing a detainee to death. On 24 February lawyer Karim Hamdy was ‎reported dead in a police hospital in the Cairo district of Matariya, with severe ‎wounds. Investigations showed that the two police officers tortured Hamdy while in ‎detention at Matariya police station to force him to confess to his alleged crimes, ‎causing severe injuries which led to his death.

Egypt's constitution outlaws torture in all its forms, designating it as a crime which ‎carries no statute of limitations.

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