Citizens seek to expose wide-scale police torture in prisons
a jail cell -YOUM7 (Archive)
By AMIRA EL-FEKKI

CAIRO: A number of families of people in detention, as well as former detainees will file a collective lawsuit to the Attorney General on Thursday regarding the torture that prisoners are allegedly subjected to by police forces while in custody.

“Nearly 60 families of those who were detained during the commemoration of the January 25 Revolution will officially report on the torture that took place in Abu Zaabal Prison and Azbakia Police Station,” a member of the April 6 Youth Movement, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told The Cairo Post on Wednesday.

Former detainees, activists and human rights lawyers will also join the motion, launched under a campaign called “Support Them” aimed at exposing police torture in police stations and inside jails. The campaign is supported by the “Freedom for the Brave” movement, composed of activists and human rights defenders.

The Court of Appeals will look into the case of 68 Azbakia detainees sentenced to two years in prison, on March 30.

“Torture is a crime with no statute of limitations” is the campaign’s slogan, and the title of the press release issued by the group on Wednesday saying: “The struggle will continue for the release of the detained and those responsible for torture crimes will be held accountable. These crimes will not break the people and cannot be erased either.”

Testimonies of police torture are being circulated on social media networks and reported on various news outlets. However, the Attorney General has not taken any action in this regard, the group said, adding that they will designate a day to push more reports.

This is not the first report filed, but it is the first collective one,” the April 6 member said. “There will be more, and they will include details on the police officers’ names,” he added.

Following the surge in allegations since January, the Ministry of Interior invited human rights organizations to visit prisoners and assess the situation, and granted permission to the National Council for Human Rights (NCHR) to conduct its first field visit in mid-February.

NCHR members Abdel Ghaffar Shokr, George Isaac, and Salah Salem all used the phrase “no systematic torture” to refer to the conditions in jail. However, they spoke of group beatings and the harsh treatment of prisoners.

“We visited the prisons of Tora, Tanta and Abu Zaabal. Five police stations were recorded where the detainees were beaten by security forces before being transferred to prosecution, as well as in Abu Zaabal prison where prisoners were greeted with a beating,” Shukr said in press statements following a conference by the NCHR earlier in March.

“Freedom for the Brave” reported in February on particular cases of torture, such as those of activists Khaled el-Sayed and Nagy Kamel, who were “stripped of their clothes, hosed down, and savagely beaten,” during their detention in Azbakia Police Station and before they were escorted to Abou Zabaal Prison.

Al-Haqanya Center for Advocacy and Law also submitted a complaint to Attorney General Hisham Barakat, demanding the inspection of Central Security Forces camps, where detained political activists and other suspects are held, after gathering documents by human rights organizations and prisoners’ testimonies on violence and torture.

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