Egypt's legal, political and social climate encourages the use of torture during detention and leaves victims without adequate means of redress, an Egyptian human rights group said on Monday.
March 20, 2001
Cairo (Reuters) - Egypt's legal, political and social
climate encourages the use of torture during detention
and leaves victims without adequate means of redress,
an Egyptian human rights group said on Monday.
A key reason behind the spread of torture was the
country's emergency law, in force since the
assassination of President Anwar Sadat in 1981, said a
new report by the Human Rights Centre for the
Assistance of Prisoners (HRCAP).
"The report states that the emergency law provides a
fertile climate for the spread of torture, as it
allows for long periods of detention without
guarantees such as visiting rights and contact with
lawyers," the centre said in a news release.
"Ninety-nine percent of the 1 124 cases included in
the report were under the emergency law," it said.
HRCAP director Mohammed Zarei told Reuters that the
report included cases of torture committed between
1981 and 1999, and took two years to compile.
The report said that deficiencies in the prison law
and penal code, as well as political and social
practices also encouraged the use of torture. At the
same time, limited opportunities of redress for
victims meant there was no deterrent for offenders.
"Citizens have no way of taking their torturers to
court, according to the criminal code procedures, as
they are deprived of the right to file direct court
cases against police officers," the press release
While some victims have received government
compensation, the centre said the money was taken from
public funds "while those who commit torture do not
bear any responsibility or obligation".
"HRCAP requests comprehensive political and
constitutional reform starting with the repeal of the
emergency law," the statement said.
"The recommendations also emphasise the need for
establishing a basic climate that guarantees respect
for human rights in democratic societies," it added,
also calling for real political plurality, freedom of
the press, independence of the judiciary, rule of law
and free and fair elections.
Egypt has said in the past that it investigates
reports of torture and prosecutes any perpetrators.
The US State Department said in its annual human
rights report in February that eight people were
reported to have died last year in Egyptian jails
International human rights watchdog Amnesty
International said last month that torture remained
widespread in Egyptian police stations and detention