Amnesty: Rampant torture, arbitrary arrests in Egypt against human rights
Egyptian police detain a supporter of the Muslim Brotherhood during clashes - AFP

CAIRO: Egypt is still using methods of torture since former President Hosni Mubarak’s regime despite promises to respect human rights but violations continued in an “astonishing rate” with impunity, Amnesty International reported Thursday.

Over 16,000 people were detained over the past year since the ousting of Islamist President Mohamed Morsi.

What happened during the past year was a “sweeping crackdown” against Morsi’s supporters and other opposed groups and activists. “The rampant torture, arbitrary arrests, and detention signal a catastrophic decline in human rights,” according to the report.

“According to WikiThawra, an initiative run by the Egyptian Center for Economic and Social rights, at least 80 people have died in custody over the past year and more than 40,000 people were detained or indicted between July 2013 and mid-May 2014,” it added.

Amnesty referred to “the enforced disappearance” in the military and police premises.

“Egypt’s notorious state security forces –currently known as National Security – are back and operating at full capacity, employing the same methods of torture and other ill-treatment used during the darkest hours of the Mubarak era,” said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Deputy Director of the Middle East and North Africa Program at Amnesty International.

“They cut my shirt, blindfolded me with it and handcuffed me from behind…they beat me with batons all over my body, particularly on the chest, back and face…Then they put two wires in my left and right little fingers and gave me electric shocks four or five times,” one of the students who were detained in Feb 2014 told Amnesty what happened to him during detention.

“The National Security officer caught my testicle and started to squeeze it… I was screaming from the pain and bent my legs to protect my testicles then he inserted his fingers in my anus… he was wearing something plastic on his fingers… he repeated this five times,” he added.

Amnesty reported that many people were rounded up from the street or unlawfully arrested without any charges or trial. Sometimes security forces seized family members or friends if the wanted person was not present and they may face trumped-up charges.

Amnesty interviewed one 17-year old who was arrested on May 27 while returning home from school and was released on June 1 after the security forces found out he was not involved in violence or riots.

The report referred to the judiciary system which “suffered huge setbacks” over the past year, adding that the verdicts are politically motivated, referring to the mass of death sentences.

“Courts sentenced boys under the age of 18 to death in violation of Egypt’s obligations under domestic and international law, most notably the Convention on the Rights of the Child,” the report added.

The Ministry of Interior denied such allegations; assistant Interior Minister for media and public relations Abdel Fatah Othman said in a TV statement Wednesday describing “the prison like hotels” and such accusations are “illogical and far from reality.”

At the end of the Amnesty report, it directed message to President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi: “It is up to the new government led by President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi to turn the tide by launching independent, impartial investigations into all allegations of human rights violations.”

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