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.