Repression of rights defenders, journalists, and opposition in Egypt has reached levels not seen in decades – from legislation effectively banning NGOs, to enforced disappearances, long-term arbitrary detention, and extrajudicial killings.
But the authoritarianism of President Sisi is perhaps best defined by widespread and systematic torture, inflicted upon dissidents with complete impunity. Human Rights Watch’s report this month reveals a torture assembly line in police stations and National Security Agency sites.
Former detainees told us a typical interrogation session begins with security officers shocking a blindfolded, stripped, and handcuffed suspect with an electric stun gun in sensitive places while slapping or beating them with sticks and metal bars. If dissatisfied with the answers, officers increase the duration of electric shocks. Officers then force detainees into stress positions, beating and shocking them while they are hanging in excruciating pain.
One former detainee said officers repeatedly raped him with a stick; another said they pulled out one of his fingernails. A detained lawyer said they wrapped a wire around his penis and shocked him. Three former detainees said officers threatened to torture their family if they did not confess.
In nearly every case, torture served as prelude to prosecution. Almost all detainees said they told prosecutors about their torture but saw no investigation into their allegations.
Egypt’s torture epidemic is systematic and widespread, and likely constitutes a crime against humanity. In the face of these violations, the Council’s utter silence is jarring, an insult to victims of egregious abuse. Time is long overdue for the Council to press Egypt to end its frontal assault on human rights.
Published on HRW on September 20, 2017.