Information transmitted to the Government
209. By letter dated 26 August 1993 the Special Rapporteur informed the Government that he had received reports according to which torture was commonly practised in police stations, the headquarters of the State Security Intelligence at Lazoghly Square and on the premises of the Firaq al-Amn (security brigades) and the State Security Investigations (SSI) police throughout the country. Official complaints lodged by lawyers with the Procurator General's Office regarding torture reportedly remain without response or apparent investigation.
210. The Special Rapporteur was also informed that for the last three years the SSI has illegally used camps of the Central Security Forces (CSF) in the south of the country as centres for the detention and torture of detainees suspected of belonging to Islamist groups, with the aim of forcing them to give information or confess to charges against them, or as a form of punishment. The following camps were mentioned in particular: the Abnoub camp, on the eastern bank of the Nile, opposite the village of Assara, near Assiut city; the Qena camp, located in the vicinity of the Sawam'a area, 6 km from Qena city; the Fayyoum camp, in the Kahafah region, 15 km from Fayyoum city; and the Red Sea camp in Hurghada city, close to the Dahar police station. According to the reports no presidential decree has been issued setting up these camps (which are considered military zones) as special prisons, neither do they belong to the other categories of prisons established by Law 396 of 1956 on the organization of prisons, and as such they do not fall under the competence of the Prisons Authority responsible for the implementation of the statutes and decisions on the organization of prisons. Moreover, the camps are reportedly not subject to judicial supervision, lack official records in which the detention orders are registered, and detainees held in them are denied any contact with lawyers or family.
211. The methods of torture prevalent at the CSF camps are reportedly the same as those used in SSI offices. They range from beating, whipping and hanging in awkward positions to the application of electric shocks to sensitive parts of the body, both directly and indirectly, by immersing the victim in water and passing an electrical current through it, as well as sexual abuse and threats of rape. The persons referred to in the following paragraphs were reported to have been tortured in these camps.
212. Mohamed Bakri el-Sheik was arrested in 1990 and accused of setting fire to a video club. He was detained at the CSF camp in Abnoub and reportedly tortured during a week with beatings, hanging in awkward positions, electric shocks and sexual abuse.
213. Ossama Bahey-Edin Mahmoud was arrested on 11 November 1991 and taken to the SSI offices in Assiut, where he allegedly was beaten. After one day he was transferred to the CSF camp in Abnoub, where he was held in a dark, humid cell without ventilation. From there he was reportedly taken to the camp hospital, blindfolded and handcuffed, and given electric shocks to sensitive parts of his body while suspended naked from a doorpost.
214. Moustafa Seddik Ibrahim and Gamil Hassan Metwalli, were arrested on 2 January 1992 by the SSI and taken to SSI offices, where they were reportedly beaten and doused with ice-cold water, blindfolded and handcuffed. After two days they were taken to the Abnoub CSF camp hospital, where they were reportedly exposed to severe beating, hanging in complex positions, electric shocks and sexual assault.
215. Ashraf Aboul-Hassan Ibrahim and Saber Hamza Moubarak, were arrested by the SSI in Alexandria on 31 July 1992. For 17 days they were held at the SSI offices in Alexandria and the Al-Labban police station, where they were reportedly tortured. Subsequently, they were transferred to the CSF Qena camp where they were reportedly blindfolded, handcuffed, stripped naked, hung by the hands with pressure on the shoulders or weights to the feet, beaten with electric wires and sticks, doused with icy water and given electric shocks.
216. Mohamed Elwi Ali, arrested on 13 March 1992, Hassan Mekkawi Hussein, arrested on 10 June 1992 and Atteya Ahmed Mohamed, arrested on 17 July 1992, were allegedly tortured at the CSF camp in Fayyoum with methods including beatings with sticks, the stubbing of burning cigarettes on their bodies and the application of electric shocks to sensitive parts of the body.
217. The Special Rapporteur also transmitted to the Government the cases of torture described in the following paragraphs.
218. Al-Sharif Hassan Ahmed, Ahmed Ibrahim 'Abd al-Galil, Qassim Ibrahim Qassim Qettish, 'Ala' al-Din Isma'il 'Abbas Ramadhan and Mohammad Sa'id Mohammad 'Abdu, were arrested in August 1992 in Alexandria under accusation of membership of an underground terrorist organization. One of them, Al-Sharif Hassan Ahmed, was sentenced to death and the others were given sentences ranging from a one-year prison term to life imprisonment. They were reportedly tortured following their arrest, and official forensic medical doctors who examined them found physical scars consistent with the torture they had alleged. Reported methods of torture included electric shocks on different parts of the body and beatings.
219. Mahmoud Guhayni al-Sa'dawi was reportedly arrested on 29 February 1992 and held in Istiqbal Tora prison until 21 May 1992, when he was transferred to the headquarters of the State Security Intelligence in Lazoghly Square. There he was reportedly severely tortured for six days and he subsequently died in the same building. An official inquiry by the Procuracy established that his death was due to circulatory and respiratory depression, but apparently failed to shed light on the circumstances surrounding the death.
220. 'Amer 'Abd al-Mun'im, a journalist working for the opposition al-Sha'b newspaper, was arrested in July 1992 under accusation of possessing anti-government leaflets and held for one month at the SSI headquarters in Lazoghly Square. According to the reports, he was beaten and subjected to electric shocks on different parts of his body, in particular his left hand.
221. Mohammed Ali Mohammed Ali was arrested on 24 January 1993 in Cairo on suspicion of car theft and taken to the Agonza police station. While in detention he was reportedly hung over a door and beaten on the soles of the feet. Following this the chief of investigation reportedly injected him with a mixture of water and faeces which eventually caused gangrene in his leg. As a result, he had to undergo three operations at the Qasr Al Alny hospital.
222. Information was also received about conditions prevailing in some of the main prisons in the Cairo area, in particular the Tora Istikbal and Abu Za'bal Liman prisons. According to the reports, security detainees are tortured as a matter of routine during interrogation by the SSI prior to their transfer to prison, and sometimes are secretly removed from prison to be tortured in SSI custody. Methods of torture consist inter alia of beating with electric prods and leather whips with pieces of metal attached. The following individual cases were communicated.
223. Dr. Mohammed As-Sayyid Said and Amir Salem, members of the board of trustees of the Egyptian Organization for Human Rights, and Hisham Mubarak, a lawyer, were arrested in August 1989 for their alleged membership of the Egyptian Workers' Communist Party and taken to the Abu Za`bal Liman prison. As a consequence of the beatings to which they were reportedly subjected Hisham Mubarak suffered a haemorrhage in his right ear and temporary loss of hearing, in addition to scars on his back and on the back of his head. He also was unable to move his right leg as a result of blows directed at his spine.
224. It was also reported that medical care is often denied to prisoners who urgently require treatment or who have been recommended for specialized care at outside hospitals. Some prisoners allegedly died in prison hospitals or in their cells because of poor and non-existent medical care. This was the case of Talip Kilich, a 52-year-old Turkish prisoner at Qanater, who died in his cell after he was allegedly beaten by jail warders on 27 July 1991. It was also the case of Mohammed Mahmoud Shak, a Somali prisoner at Qanater, who died on 29 November 1991 after he was allegedly severely beaten for attempting to escape. Despite the 75 lashes authorized (with head, arms and legs tied on a piece of wood shaped like a cross), about one hundred warders were said to have taken turns at beating him. He was later transferred to an underground cell where he died. He was allegedly not given any treatment for the wounds he sustained.
225. By the same letter of 26 August 1993 the Special Rapporteur reminded the Government of allegations of torture transmitted in 1992, regarding which no reply has been received.
226. The Special Rapporteur shares the concern and alarm of the Committee against Torture (CAT/C/SR.170, para. 2) in respect of the serious problem of terrorism in Egypt. The terrorist acts are carried out by groups preposterously invoking religion to justify vicious attacks, often directed against civilians, Egyptian and foreign. He is also concerned by the Committee's assessment that torture is routinely practised in Egypt and that the difficult situation cannot justify departures from the absolute prohibition of torture, in respect of suspected terrorists or anyone. He endorses the Committee's suggestions and recommendations, in particular those aimed at putting an end to incommunicado detention and at bringing to justice those responsible.