By Menna Zaki
Prisons in Egypt have become “more like hotels”, Major General Abdelfattah Othman, deputy interior minister’s assistant for public relations said Tuesday.
Othman’s comments came in response to indictments against the Ministry of Interior following reports of torture, rape and abuse in prisons by security forces there. Such claims, he said, are illogical, as there is “no interest or benefit from” these abuses for security forces.
Human rights groups have repeatedly demanded investigations into allegations of torture and ill-treatment by security forces in prisons.
El Nadeem Centre for Rehabilitation of Victims of Violence along with the Association of Freedom of Thought Expression (AFTE) held a press conference on the International Day in Support of Victims of Torture on 26 June in which they presented cases of torture.
One of them was the case of Karim Taha, who said that “if I had stayed longer in prison, I would have forgotten my humanity”.
The Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR) has released a report as well discussing the living conditions and healthcare in Egyptian prisons which “are not in line with the minimum components of the right to health”.
El Nadeem Centre and EIPR have reported cases of disappearances, torture and arbitrary detention at a secret military prison, Al-Azouly in Ismailia, in which the rights groups uncovered a “clear pattern of abuse”.
In June, civil society organisations signed a statement that called for “immediate, neutral and comprehensive” investigations into alleged assaults demanding the cessation of practicing torture in detention facilities.
According to Malek Adly, lawyer at the Egyptian Centre for Economic and Social Rights, the Egyptian prisons are full of torture cases. All studies point that prisons lack everything that has to do with the rehabilitation of prisoners or even humanity, he said.
Adly added that “the Egyptian Ministry of Interior is one of the worst interior ministries in the world”, given the number of deaths and sexual assaults that were reported in prisons. Within the last two months, 12 cases of sexual assaults were reported in prisons in addition to several reported sexual assault cases at checkpoints, the lawyer said.