Egypt’s official rights body notes torture, violations


CAIRO (AP) — Egypt’s government-sanctioned human rights body said Sunday that it has received reports of torture and forced disappearances, reflecting the findings of local and international human rights groups.

In an assessment far less critical than that of more independent organizations, the head of the National Council for Human Rights, Mohammed Fayek, said his group has also received complaints about poor conditions in prisons.

“We’ve received many complaints about law enforcement concerning torture and (inmates’) poor living conditions. And of course, law enforcement officials have denied such allegations,” he said.

He said his group has officially documented three cases in which authorities tortured detainees to death.

Authorities launched a wide-ranging crackdown on dissent after the military overthrow of Islamist President Mohammed Morsi in 2013. Thousands of people, mainly his Islamist supporters but also a number of well-known secular activists, have been jailed.

Rights activists say that police under President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, who as defense minister led Morsi’s overthrow, are acting with near total impunity, torturing suspects, abusing detainees and making random arrests.

The Nadeem Center, which provides counseling for the victims of torture, documented some 600 cases of police torture in 2015. It said 500 people were killed by security forces that year, including 100 who died in official custody.

The Interior Ministry says any excesses are perpetrated by a small minority who are held accountable.

El-Sissi, who was elected nearly a year after Morsi’s ouster, says Egypt’s rights record should not be judged by Western standards.

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