NCHR demands investigation into alleged torture at Abu Zaabal prison
Abu Zaabal prison - YOUM7 (Archive)

CAIRO:  The National Council for Human Rights (NCHR) demanded Tuesday opening an investigation into alleged torture that took place inside Abu Zaabal, after the delegation met four prisoners who said they had been beaten.

According to an initial report released on the NCHR website regarding the visit, prisoners said they were “extremely afraid” due to having been threatened by the prison administration not to talk about their experiences; the delegation noticed evidence of having been beaten on the prisoners’ bodies, and said that most of them had been held in disciplinary rooms for periods from a week to 16 days, in ”inhumane conditions.”

Most of the jailed are students pending investigations, and their lengthy detentions may jeopardize their academic careers, the NCHR added.

The report said that delegation visited the prison regarding complaints previously issued to the attorney general Hisham Barakat regarding alleged torture inside the prison.

The delegation recommended a review of articles in the law that regulate pre-trial procedures, as well as a full investigation into all alleged incidents in the Abu Zaabal prison.

Earlier in March, video titled “Police officers harass defendants” was uploaded on YouTube and went viral on social media. It showed one officer, who is referred to as Shrief, with other colleagues who appear to be trying to coerce confessions out of a group of suspects.

As one of them was filming the alleged suspects of an uncertain crime, he curses and orders them to look at the camera, saying he would upload the video on social media in order to humiliate them. Some of the group tried to hide their faces from the camera. The video also shows women in the group being beaten and harassed by an arresting officer.

On March 24, 10 NGOs issued a statement condemning “torture and collective punishments taking place in Egyptian prisons.”  They said that some of them received reports of torture taking place over the past few weeks in Borg El Arab, Tora and Abu Zaabal prisons.

The statement mentioned that on March 19, masked men in the central security forces allegedly entered cells and attacked prisoners with clubs and police dogs, as well as using tear gas that injured a number of prisoners.

“Prison forces then took 15 prisoners from their cells, and tortured them for three hours in front of the rest of the prisoners, stripping them of their clothes, forcing them to verbally abuse themselves and then transferred them to solitary disciplinary cells,” the NGOs stated.

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