Egyptian drug rehab centre in torture case not registered: Ministry

Ahram Online, Friday 8 Feb 2013

The Cairo drug rehabilitation centre where staff were suspected of torturing patients is not officially registered with the health ministry

Following recent reports revealing that patients had been tortured by staff members at a drug rehabilitation clinic in Cairo, a health ministry spokesperson said on Friday that the clinic is not officially registered with the ministry or with the National Council for Mental Health.

Preliminary findings of an investigation by prosecutors released Wednesday showed that two staff members at a private drug rehabilitation centre in Cairo's Muqattam district were found to have tortured their patients.

Investigations were initially launched when Nabil (last name withheld), 45, told police that his son, Alaa, a patient at the centre, had gone missing. After inspecting the centre’s facilities, police found that 20-year-old Alaa had apparently committed suicide in one of the centre’s bathrooms.

Alaa’s parents, however, subsequently provided south Cairo prosecutors with video footage showing incidents of torture on the centre’s premises, Al-Ahram’s Arabic-language website reported on Wednesday.

The footage shows members of the centre’s staff stripping patients naked, shaving their heads and binding their hands behind their backs.

Subsequent investigations revealed that Alaa had not committed suicide but had in fact died of injuries sustained as a result of torture.

Incidents of torture in Egypt have been frequently reported in recent years. Although most have involved police and security forces and were often political in nature, sporadic cases of torture and abuse have also surfaced within domestic and labour-related contexts.

Prosecutors have since ordered the formation of a medical committee to look into the case and determine whether the centre was officially qualified to provide drug rehabilitation programmes. They have also called for the questioning of all the centre’s doctors and staff.

Prosecutors have summoned Dr. Ahmed Samir – in whose name the clinic is officially registered – for questioning, Al-Ahram reported on Wednesday evening.  

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