Egyptian army soldiers guard with armoured personnel carriers (APC) in front of the main gate of Torah prison on the outskirts of Cairo, August 22, 2013. Reuters/Louafi Larbi
CAIRO, Jun 11 (Aswat Masriya) - A report on violations committed by the police during the first year of President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi's tenure counted nearly 300 cases of torture and almost 300 more deaths at the hands of security personnel or within detention facilities.
The Nadeem Centre for the Rehabilitation of Victims of Violence and Torture said in a report released on Thursday that Sisi's one year in power is "the worst ever in terms of human rights violations since the organisation's establishment in 1993."
The report listed the ministry of interior's violations throughout the past year, collected from press reports. It held Sisi responsible for the violations, "since he is president and therefore responsible for the state's policies and institutions."
The report runs since Sisi's inauguration on June 8 last year, until June 7 this year.
It shortly follows another report by the New York based international organisation Human Rights Watch, which described Sisi's first year in power as a "year of abuse."
A source within the Interior Ministry meanwhile denied to Aswat Masriya human rights organisations' reports on torture within prisons, forced disappearance or detention without investigation.
VIOLATIONS AND DEATH
According to the report, the past year witnessed 289 cases of torture and 27 cases of "group torture".
Nadeem said the torture in its report refers to cases of "electrocution, burning with cigarettes, suspension from the limbs for long hours, police dogs' attacks, stripping and drowning in extremely hot or cold water."
"Group torture" meanwhile refers to exercising the aforementioned practices on a group of detainees at the same time, the report read.
The reported cases of torture occurred in different detention facilities nationwide, Nadim said. It added that one case was reported inside the ministry of education.
Nadeem also listed 272 cases of death at the hands of police personnel and/or in custody. The causes of death ranged from gunshot wounds to "medical negligence, mysterious circumstances, drop in blood circulation," torture, suffocation, suicide and beating.
Some of those reported were killed after "being thrown from roofs, being run over by police or military vehicles or being stabbed (or slaughtered) by fellow inmates."
Sixteen cases of sexual assault were also mentioned in the report, as well as eight cases of sexual harassment. The cases were reported in detention facilities in Cairo, Alexandria, Suez and Assiut, as well as inside police vehicles.
The report also recorded 119 cases of forced disappearance. The centre described forced disappearance as "the abduction, arrest or detention" of individuals by security forces without facing prosecution, or being reached by their families or lawyers within 48 hours.
Some remain missing for weeks or months, Nadeem said. "Others resurface in courts or prisons, or their bodies are [later] found at morgues or outdoors, accompanied by a message from the Interior Ministry accusing them of [exercising] terrorism."
Political movements have been outspoken about a recent wave of "forced disappearance" reported specifically throughout the past two weeks.
Strong Egypt party, headed by former presidential candidate Abdel Moneim Aboul Fotouh, called on Egypt's Interior Ministry last week to "immediately reveal" information regarding the alleged "abduction" of political activists.
The April 6 youth movement, which helped spark the January 2011 uprising that toppled the regime of former president Hosni Mubarak, told Reuters on Wednesday that three of its members recently went missing before resurfacing in police stations.
The Cairo Court of Urgent Matters banned the April 6 movement in 2014, ordering the confiscation of its headquarters.
A source within the Interior Ministry said that the ministry "is not related to" the circulating incidents of forced disappearance.
"Any person who gets arrested is either accused in certain cases, accused of joining a banned or terrorist group ... or the prosecution has issued an arrest warrant against him," the security source said.
The ministry only carries out the decisions of the prosecution, the source said, adding that such decisions could range from detention to release orders.
"The ministry of interior holds accountable any violating officers," the source said, describing such incidents as "individual".
It cited the case of two police officers currently facing trial for torturing a detained lawyer to death at Cairo's Matariya district. The officers were released on bail in March and are currently being tried from outside prison.
Nadeem is not the first human rights organisation to criticise the state's violations under Sisi's rule. A report released by Human Rights Watch on Monday accused Sisi and his cabinet of "erasing the human rights gains of the 2011 uprising that ousted the longtime ruler Hosni Mubarak."
The report was widely criticised by Egyptian authorities, as the Foreign Ministry said it is "politicised and lacks the simplest rules of accuracy and objectivity."
Another report released by the state-appointed National Council for Human Rights (NCHR) last week said that at least 80 detainees died in police custody since July 2013 and until last December.
"The phenomenon of deaths in detention had disappeared completely ... but it returned again," the report said. It cited health and living conditions and "extreme over crowdedness" as the reasons for the deaths, also hinting that torture could be another cause.
(writing by Rana Muhammad Taha)