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Egypt: Nile Delta police station allows ‘torture sessions’ with impunity, says rights group

One prisoner has died due to deliberate denial of healthcare at a Sharqiya police station, and other detainees leak letter accusing officers of acts of torture, says rights group
Egyptian police cadets take part in a training session at an academy in Cairo on 30 December 2019 (AFP)
Egyptian police cadets take part in a training session at an academy in Cairo on 30 December 2019 (AFP)

A police station in the Egyptian Nile Delta governorate of Sharqiya has seen “torture sessions” for detainees with the consent of senior officers, a rights group said on Thursday.

The Egyptian Network for Human Rights (ENHR) documented the death of a detainee at the Minya al-Qamh police station in Sharqiya on 11 March after officers denied him  urgent care over a chronic medical condition.

The ENHR obtained a leaked letter from the police station documenting various purported acts of torture and abuses suffered by detainees, including denial of medical care and severe overcrowding. 

Middle East Eye contacted the Egyptian Ministry of Interior over the allegations in the letter but had not received a response by the time of publication.

The letter accused several investigative officers of torturing an inmate, Mohamed Abdel Fattah, including by severe beating that led to bleeding, dragging him by his clothes and handcuffing him for several hours afterwards, despite the presence of surveillance cameras in the building.

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The letter added that senior officials at the police station consented to the abuses, describing the station's officials as “a gang operating under the guise of the law”.

"At Minya Al-Qamh police station detention cells, officers commit all kinds of violations against detainees by overcrowding them multiple times the capacity of cells, and leaving the cells at the disposal of a number of registered dangerous inmates to practice all forms of physical and psychological torture on everyone,” the letter read, adding that some dangerous inmates “have plastic water pipes to beat the other inmates to control them, and they take bribes from everyone, and those who do not pay are tortured”.

Moreover, the letter said that illegal drugs were allowed to be used and distributed among inmates, with the knowledge of the station management “in exchange for huge sums of money every week”.

They also pointed out “deliberate medical negligence” and lack of clean equipment and healthcare.

The cells, according to the letter, are infested with lice, bedbugs, and cockroaches, contributing to the spread of scabies. There is no healthcare provided for chronic diseases, it added.

'He died in front of us; we were all screaming, not knowing how to save him'

- Letter from inmates

Mohamed al-Lail, 60, died in custody on 11 March as a result of medical negligence, the ENHR said.

The letter stated that al-Lail was left to die despite pleas by fellow inmates to rescue him.

“He died in front of us; we were all screaming, not knowing how to save him," the letter read, confirming an earlier report by ENHR documenting his death.

A legal analysis by the British rights group Redress in collaboration with the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights, the Egyptian Commission for Rights and Freedoms, Dignity, the Committee for Justice and the International Commission of Jurists has concluded that torture under the government of President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi amounts to a crime against humanity, one of the most serious international crimes. 

The classification is due to the systematic and widespread use of torture in the country, including a pattern of beatings, electrical shocks, sexual violence and denial of medical care.

The groups also argued that torture in Egypt is used “as a political tool to stifle dissent and for discriminatory purposes”.

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