Torture & Rape Official Methods In Egyptian Prisons

HRW Pressrelease, Beirut: Egyptian Prisons – Egyptian authorities should immediately and unconditionally release Hoda Abdel Hamid, apparently detained solely for filing a complaint about the alleged torture and sexual assault of her detained son, Human Rights Watch said Tuesday, May 18, 2021.


Egypt Prisons
Left to right: Abdelrahman al-Showeikh, Gamal al-Showeikh, Salsbeel al-Showeikh, and Hoda Abdel Hamid.
© 2021 Private

Police and National Security Agency officers arrested Abdel Hamid, mother of Abdelrahman Gamal Metwally al-Showeikh, as well as his father, Gamal, 65, and sister, Salsbeel, 18, in an April 26, 2021, raid on their home in Cairo. The father and sister were later released. The authorities should swiftly carry out an independent, transparent investigation of al-Showeikh’s torture and sexual assault allegations and bring anyone responsible to justice.

“Instead of investigating Hoda Abdel Hamid’s report that her son had faced horrific torture and sexual assault in prison, Egyptian authorities are persecuting the messenger,” said Joe Stork, deputy Middle East and North Africa director at Human Rights Watch. “Arresting Abdelrahman al-Showeikh’s family strongly underscores the abysmal state of Egypt’s so-called justice system.”

 

Al-Showeikh, 29, has been detained in Minya Maximum-Security Prison, 240 kilometers south of Cairo, for 15 months. On April 16, Abdel Hamid posted on her now-deleted Facebook account a letter her son had passed to her when she visited him a day earlier. It said that on April 6 a fellow prisoner with whom he has quarreled, with the assistance and complicity of several prison officers and guards, tied him up, ripped off his clothes, and sexually assaulted him “in several ways.” The two-page letter, which Human Rights Watch reviewed, named the other prisoner and four of the officers.

In his letter, al-Showeikh urged his mother to report the incident. “Do everything you can. Submit a complaint to the prosecutor general, the human rights [organizations] everywhere … and the United Nations,” he wrote. “I was very hesitant to write about this to you because it will upset you. I am sorry but it is very difficult, and I had to tell you … I beg you not to stay silent.” Al-Showeikh wrote that he was attacked after he complained that the money his family deposited with the prison administration was stolen. He also wrote that he intended to start a hunger strike.

In her Facebook post, Abdel Hamid said that when she visited her son on April 15 al-Showeikh appeared “sad and worn out,” and, “He did not seem himself.”

Names Of The Alleged Attackers

From the letter: “He threatened me, adding “I will teach you how to raise your voice while talking to me.” Then he called the informants and other prison guards to grab me, tie me up, blindfold my eyes, and rip off my clothes. As I lay completely naked, I was screaming for them to cover my body and let me go. They sexually assaulted me, in more ways than just one. They violated my honour. After that they removed my blindfold and made me kneel, as if I am in prayer, under the foot of the man in charge, all the while my hands and feet were bound.”

The following people were involved in this crime:

  1. Minya Prison Officer: Muhammad Muhammadin.
  2. Minya Prison Block Secretary: Amran.
  3. Informant: Hussein.
  4. Informant: Ashraf.
  5. The criminal who ordered everyone else: Alaa Nagy (Abu Mando).
  6. Soldiers from the strike force in Minya Prison.

Verbal Complaint

Following the meeting with her son, Abdel Hamid wrote in her post, she submitted a verbal complaint to the prison warden and the officer present during her visit. Later that day, she submitted a written complaint at Minya public prosecution headquarters, with details of the April 6 attack including the names of the alleged attackers.

Around April 19, the Minya public prosecution summoned Abdel Hamid and al-Showeikh and separately heard their accounts without lawyers present.

Testifies About Conditions In Egyptian Prisons

Abdel Hamid said in a separate video she posted on April 25, in a tearful voice, that the wife of one of al-Showeikh’s fellow prisoners informed her that after the prosecution’s hearing al-Showeikh was repeatedly beaten and abused to the extent that he was transferred to the prison hospital more than once. Abdel Hamid did not say whether her son was abused by the same people who had attacked him before.

Omar al-Showeikh, Abdelrahman’s younger brother, who lives in Turkey, posted on April 25 on Facebook that the prison administration sent to the prosecution several prisoners as witnesses who claimed that al-Showeikh was on medication for a mental illness, a claim his family firmly rejected. “Abdelrahman was a soldier in the military police, how come he becomes mentally ill only after I reported the incident at the prosecution,” Abdel Hamid said in her April 25 video.

Mother Arrested

Omar al-Showeikh, who himself earlier had been detained and tortured in Egypt, told Human Rights Watch that the next day, April 26, roughly 15 uniformed, armed police officers and others in civilian clothes, most likely National Security (NSA) officers, raided Abdel Hamid’s home and arrested her and her husband and daughter; their 12-year-old son witnessed the raid. The police photographed the family in their pajamas and arrested them without allowing them to change their clothes, Omar al-Showeikh said.

Pressuring Him To Drop Complaints

Omar al-Showeikh said that an officer visited al-Showeikh twice and warned him to withdraw his complaints. Prison officers are not allowing him access to lawyers or privacy in his family visits, the brother said. “They are pressuring him a lot to drop his complaints.”

On April 27, Omar said, Cairo’s Tora Prison’s authorities transferred another detained brother, Abdelaziz al-Showeikh, to the infamous Scorpion prison apparently as part of the retaliation against the family.

 

Abdelrahman al-Showeikh’s claims of torture and sexual assault reflect a pattern of well-documented abuses and systematic torture that prisoners and detainees have faced under President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi’s government since 2014. A 2017 Human Rights Watch investigation found out that torture in Egypt is widespread and most likely amounts to crimes against humanity.

Stop Weapons Transfers To Egypt

Human Rights Watch has repeatedly said that other governments should halt all security assistance and weapons transfers to Egypt, particularly the Interior Ministry, and condition their resumption on accountability and concrete improvement in the country’s human rights conditions.

“In Egypt, you can follow the legal path and do everything right, as Hoda Abdel Hamid tried to do, yet fall victim to the same violations you are protesting,” Stork said. “The authorities should immediately release her, protect al-Showeikh from retaliation, and bring those responsible for abusing him to justice.”

Head Image: Al Jazeera English

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