Rights group: Torture widespread in Egypt

Torture is common in Egyptian police stations and prisons and three victims have died so far this year, the Egyptian Organisation for Human Rights (EOHR) said on Wednesday.

”The Organisation affirms … that torture in Egypt has become a widespread phenomenon inside police stations and State Security Investigation Services headquarters, in addition to prisons … the Egyptian street in broad daylight, in front of checkpoints and in citizen’s homes,” the group said.

A report released by the organisation on Wednesday documented hundreds of cases of torture and ill treatment by the authorities from 1993 to July 2007, through eyewitness accounts, complaints from family members, police records and forensics reports.

Three victims had died in 2007, it said. Among the torture cases cited was a man who said police set fire to him in a police station, and the recent beating to death of a man in a Nile Delta town.

The hundreds of cases were only a ”limited sample” that indicated the extent to which torture had become common in police stations, it added.

Egypt says it does not condone torture and that it only occurs in isolated instances. The Interior Ministry has said previously that allegations of systematic torture were exaggerated to tarnish the image of the police.

The group said emergency laws — in place since the assassination of President Anwar Sadat in 1981 — and a lack of legal deterrents were contributing to the spread of torture.

It urged the interior minister to punish the perpetrators and called for routine inspections of police stations and detention centres. It also recommended the creation of a permanent and independent commission of doctors, lawyers and judges to investigate torture claims.

The United States State Department, in an annual report published in March, cited Egypt as one of several countries where observance of human rights had deteriorated in 2006 and said violations there included ”severe” cases of torture. — Reuters

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