Thursday, November 20, 2003

Amnesty accuses Egypt of torture

From The BBC News

Torture in Egyptian detention centres remains widespread and systematic, according to a report by the human rights group Amnesty International.
The report claims there were at least seven cases in which detainees were allegedly tortured to death last year.

It says refugees and people held by the security services because of their sexual orientation are most at risk.

Torture can include electric shocks and beatings, as well as suspending detainees by the wrists or ankles.

"Torture and other cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment continue to be practised systematically in detention centres," a statement by Amnesty said.

The human rights organisation said it had appealed to the Egyptian authorities for years to end torture, and urged them to take immediate and decisive steps to prevent further ill-treatment.

Excessive force

Amnesty said there had been several cases in recent years in which the Egyptian public prosecutor had begun proceedings against police officers linked to deaths in custody.

Although it welcomed such cases, it said the officers who went on trial were generally those accused of killing alleged criminals rather than political detainees.

Amnesty has previously criticised the Egyptian authorities for detaining men on suspicion of being homosexual.

Egyptian law does not specifically prohibit homosexuality, but men suspected of having engaged in homosexual sex can face charges of contempt of religion and immoral behaviour.

Earlier this month, another group, Human Rights Watch, called on Egypt to investigate the alleged mistreatment and torture of people who protested against the US-led war in Iraq.

The New York-based group said police used excessive force to disperse a mass protest in Cairo in March.


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