A report released yesterday by Human Rights Watch details how Egypt’s National Security Agency use torture to compel perceived dissidents to confess or reveal information. Although torture is technically against Egypt’s constitution, the report details instances of an “assembly line” of techniques which range from beatings to electric shock to rape. During the past year there have been multiple accusations of severe human rights abuses committed by Egyptian authorities, and many within the country have expressed fear of the escalating situation. As a religious minority, it is a situation which many within the Coptic Christian community are closely and prayerfully monitoring.
09/06/2017 Egypt (The Guardian) – Egypt’s president, Abdel Fatah al-Sisi, has given police and national security officers a green light to use torture with impunity, according to Human Rights Watch.
Arbitrary arrests, enforced disappearances and torture against perceived dissidents by police and security forces is common, leaving people with no hope of justice, the rights group said.
Egypt’s epidemic of torture, with techniques including an “assembly line” of beatings, electric shocks, stress positions and sometimes rape by security forces, could amount to a crime against humanity, it said. Torture is against the Egyptian constitution, as well as international human rights law.
HRW’s 63-page report, We do unreasonable things here: torture and national security in al-Sisi’s Egypt, documents how security forces, particularly the offices of the interior ministry’s national security agency, use torture to force suspects to confess, divulge information, or to punish them.
“President al-Sisi has effectively given police and national security officers a green light to use torture whenever they please,” said Joe Stork, HRW’s deputy Middle East director. “Impunity for the systematic use of torture has left citizens with no hope of justice.”
The report, published on Wednesday, comes after the British government was criticised for a lack of transparency over £2m in aid and defence funding given to security projects in Egypt, including support for policing, the criminal justice system and treatment of juvenile detainees.
Prosecutors typically ignore complaints of ill-treatment from detainees, creating an environment of almost total impunity, the HRW report found.
“Al-Sisi’s pursuit of political stability at any cost has granted the country’s chief domestic security institution, the interior ministry, a free hand, perpetuating the same abuses that fuelled the 2011 uprising,” the report said.
Since the military coup in July 2013, Egyptian authorities have arrested or charged 60,000 people, tried thousands in military courts and passed death sentences on hundreds more. Many have disappeared for months at the hands of security forces, it said.
Last year, Ibrahim Halawa, an Irish citizen who has been detained in Egypt for four years without trial, told the Guardian he had been stripped, beaten and left for dead after a hunger strike. The Irish government have been trying to secure the release of Halawa, who was arrested in Cairo in the aftermath of protests in 2013.
The primary target of repression has been alleged sympathisers of the Muslim Brotherhood, the country’s largest opposition movement, which rose to power after the 2011 uprising but has been the subject of a crackdown since 2013.