Rights activist praises NCHR’s visit to Abou Zaabl prison
Egypt's National Council for Human Rights.
By AYMAN RAMADAN

CAIRO: Human right activist Salah Suliman praised on Tuesday the visit of the delegation from the National Council of Human Rights (NCHR) to Abou Zaabl prison, adding that the human rights officials should also meet prisons’ officers to inspect the prisoners’ conditions.

Suliman told Youm7 on Tuesday that NCHR’s visits to several prisons over the past month aim to verify whether security officers commit violations or not.

A member of the state-affiliated NCHR, Hafez Abu Seeda denied claims that the prisoners are tortured, adding that the prisoners’ main complaints were about overcrowding in cells.

“There is no torture inside Abou Zaabl prison,” NCHR member Salah Salam announced on Tuesday, after the organization visited the prison on Monday.

Salam said in televised statements that during their visit they met more than 60 criminal and political prisoners, and all of them said they were treated in a good manner, denying the presence of any torture acts inside the prison, counter to some claims by other prisoners.

Numerous prisoners have presented official complaints to the NCHR alleging that there is torture and brutality inside police stations. NCHR said it is documenting the complaints in order to take legal measures towards each, Salam said.

Salam added that they are currently arranging for a visit to Al-Kanateer, Al-Arab, and Akrab prisons to address prisoners’ complaints and review their cases.

NCHR’s visit to Abou Zaabl prison was a response to various detainees’ complaints that they are tortured in prisons and requests from organizations to inspect police stations and prisons.

The number of reports of torture has risen in recent months, and the Ministry of Interior has repeatedly denied such claims. The Arabic Network for Human Rights Information released a statement on Feb. 12 calling for an independent investigation, by an organization not affiliated with the government, unlike the state-appointed NCHR, into reports of torture and abuse inside Egyptian prisons. Sixteen prominent Egyptian human rights organizations signed the statement.

Several political groups issued a statement the same day condemning the accounts of brutal torture and sexual assault in prison. Among the undersigning parties were the April 6 Youth Movement, Dostor Party, Hamdeen Sabbahi’s Popular Current, the Egypt Freedom Party, and the Egyptian Social Democratic Party.

Many detainees have said that they were subjected to violations and have been brutally beaten during their detention in police stations. However, the Interior Ministry has repeatedly denied that any torture or violations of human rights has happened in prison and has welcomed inspections by human rights groups.

“Anyone who faced practices of torture has to file a complaint [directly with the Interior Ministry], and it will be addressed,” said assistant Interior Minister Abdel Karim  in a phone call with CBC channel on Feb. 14, claiming that the Interior Ministry does not accept any violations.

Originally published in Youm7.

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