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UN backs out of torture conference in Egypt after pressure from rights groups

August 21, 2019 at 11:18 am

US-Egyptian detainee Khaled Hassan [Twitter]

The UN has postponed a conference on torture that was set to take place in Cairo at the beginning of September after a wave of criticism from human rights activists who have documented the Egyptian government’s extensive use of torture against political opponents.

Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have published several reports detailing how Egyptian authorities use torture including rape and electric shocks against political opponents.

At the beginning of August dual US-Egyptian detainee Khaled Hassan, who was tortured and raped in an Egyptian prison, attempted to commit suicide after his brother was denied a family visit permit.

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UN spokesperson Rupert Colville has said the decision was taken after “growing unease in some parts of the NGO community with the choice of location.”

Head of the Egyptian Revolutionary Council Maha Azzam wrote to the UN’s High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet Jeria describing the conference as an “absolute kafkaesque horror” and urged her to publicly condemn it.

UN special rapporteur on torture Nils Melzer was set to speak alongside members of the Egyptian government who have overseen severe human rights abuses in the country.