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No torture in Egyptian prisons, insists minister

Defendants are seen during the summary judgement session of ‘Cabinet Incidents’ trial, chaired by Judge Nagy Shehata, at Cairo Criminal court in Cario, Egypt on 25 July, 2017 [Mostafa El Shemy/Anadolu Agency]
Defendants are seen during the summary judgement at Cairo Criminal court in Cario, Egypt on 25 July 2017 [Mostafa El Shemy/Anadolu Agency]

Egypt doesn’t torture prisoners in detentions, parliamentary affairs minister, Omar Marwan, said yesterday.

“If whoever is sent to prison would have already been interrogated, why would we [Egyptian authorities] torture him?” Marwan told reporters.

Slamming international rights organisations’ recent critics on what described as “killings and torture by Egyptian security forces,” Marwan called on the international community to “come and visit prisons in local detentions” and to “ask prisoners how they are treated.”

“The authorities are currently working on counting the densities inside the country’s prisons,” the minister pointed out, adding that the government was building “new prisons as a result of the increase in the number of criminals.”

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The Egyptian authorities, Marwan noted, would not prevent a demonstration, stressing that it would follow a “judicial order.”

Marwan’s remarks came following his attendance of the UN Human Rights Council meeting in the Swiss capital city of Geneva, during which the United States (US) and other Western countries had urged Egypt “to investigate alleged killings and torture by its security forces” and “to release journalists and others arrested for exercising their right to freedom of expression.”

In response, Marwan – who was heading the Egyptian delegation – said that “many criminal and disciplinary actions were taken for incidents related to torture, many trials were organised against perpetrators of torture and ill-treatment” over the past five years.

Since incumbent Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi took power in 2014, the government has launched a crackdown on pro-democracy activists and anyone suspected of opposing his leadership. Local and international human rights groups accuse the Egyptian authorities of carrying out forced disappearances, arbitrary arrests and unlawful detentions of thousands of dissidents. Egypt has consistently denied the accusations.

Amnesty International has described the situation in Egypt as the worst human rights crisis in the country in decades, with the state systematically using arbitrary arrests and enforced disappearances to silence any dissent and create an atmosphere of fear.

The latest wave of arrests, which rights activists say was Egypt’s most intensive for years, came after rare protests against Sisi in Cairo and other cities in late September. According to the Egyptian Commission for Rights and Freedoms, there are some 3,000 people, including lawyers and academics, are being held under charges such as using social media to spread false news, joining a banned terrorist group, and protesting without a permit.

 

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