Assistant interior minister for human rights, Abu Bakr Abdel Karim repeated Friday the ministry’s denial of cases of torture inside prisons, as the number of accounts by tortured detainees rises.
Egyptian news website Mada Masr published Friday an English translation of a testimony of Islam Abu Ghazala, who had been arrested on October 6, 2013 during an anti-government protest, detailing the systematic torture he endured in Wadi al-Natroun prison.
“As the policemen made us crawl on the floor, they followed us with sticks, belts, and water pipes, lashing our backs to force us to crawl faster,” Ghazala said. In early January he started a hunger strike in protest of his treatment.
Ghazala’s testimony is one of the many reports about torture in prisons that came out this week.
For example, prominent activists Khaled el-Sayed and Nagy Kamel were “stripped of their clothes, hit with water, and savagely beaten,” during their detention at Al-Azbakeya police station, according to the activist Facebook page “Freedom for the Brave.”
The Arabic Network for Human Rights Information published a statement on Wednesday, calling for “an immediate, independent investigation into growing claims of the brutal torture and sexual assault of detainees held in prisons and police stations in Egypt after their arrest in demonstrations on January 25th.” Sixteen prominent Egyptian human rights organizations signed the statement.
Another six political groups issued a statement Wednesday condemning the accounts of brutal torture and sexual assault in prison. Among the undersigning parties were the Dostour Party, Hamdeen Sabbahi’s Popular Current, the Egypt Freedom Party, and the Egyptian Social Democratic Party.
However, the Interior Ministry has repeatedly denied that any torture or violations of human rights has happened in prison and has welcomed human rights groups for inspections.
“Anyone who faced practices of torture has to file a complaint [with the Interior Ministry], and it will be addressed,” said assistant Minister Abdel Karim in a phone call with CBC channel, claiming that the Interior Ministry does not accept any violations.
He added that a delegation from the state-appointed National Council of Human Rights (NCHR) visited a number of prisons on Thursday to ensure human rights were respected.
NCHR member Kamal Abbas said Friday that a delegation from the NCHR, based on its legal and constitutional mandate, is scheduled to visit Abou Zaabl Prison this week to assess reports of tortured detainees.
Abbas added to CBC Extra Channel that the NCHR has received several complaints from prisoners’ relatives regarding the torture of detainees.
Additional reporting by Fadya Shoala.