Egypt: Day after Human Rights Watch released a report on systematic torture in Egyptian jails, its government responded by blocking the organisations website.
The report by HRW titled “ We Do Unreasonable Things Here”, is based on the accounts of 19 former detainees.
Download the full report here: (https://www.hrw.org/sites/default/files/report_pdf/egypt0917_web.pdf)
Egyptian government criticized the report saying it defamed the country and ignored the progress on human rights made in recent years by the government.
The HRW report accuses Egyptian security services of using torture as a “systematic practice” against suspected opponents of the government and rejected claims that incidents of tortures are isolated incidents of bad officers acting alone.
According to the report, Aljazeera reported, the statements of the detainees interviewed showed how “police and officers of the National Security Agency regularly use torture during their investigations to force perceived dissidents to confess or divulge information, or to punish them”.
One position, called the “chicken” or “grill”, “involved laying suspects on their back, placing their knees over a stick or bar, wrapping their arms around the bar from the other side so that the bar lays between the crook of their elbows and the back of their knees, and tying their hands together above their shins to secure the position”.
The bar was then lifted, placing the suspects in a position “resembling a chicken on a rotisserie spit”.
Excerpt from the Summary of the Report:
According to detainees, a typical torture session begins with security officers shocking a blindfolded, stripped, and handcuffed suspect with a handheld electric stun gun, often in sensitive places such as the ears or head. At the same time, they slap or punch the suspect or beat him with sticks and metal bars. If detainees do not provide satisfactory answers to their initial questions, officers increase the duration of electric shocks and use a stun gun on other parts of the suspect’s body, almost always including his genitals. Sometimes, interrogators use electrified wires as well.
After electric shocks, officers use two basic types of stress positions to inflict severe pain on suspects. In one position, officers handcuff suspects’ arms behind their back, pull up their arms, place their handcuffs over the top edge of a door, and hang them above the floor, an unnatural position that causes excruciating pain in the back and shoulders, sometimes dislocating them. Some officers pull on suspects’ legs to increase the pain. A variation of this position sometimes involves hanging suspects by their handcuffs, again raised unnaturally from behind, from a hook in the ceiling. The second stress position, called the “chicken” or “grill,” involves laying suspects on their back, placing their knees over a stick or bar, wrapping their arms around the bar from the other side so that the bar lays between the crook of their elbows and the back of their knees, and tying their hands together above their shins to secure the position. When the officers lift the bar and suspend suspects in the air, resembling a chicken on a rotisserie spit, the suspects’ weight causes excruciating pain in their shoulders, knees, and arms.
Officers keep suspects in these stress positions for periods of time that range from minutes to hours and often beat and shock them with electricity while they are hanging and defenseless.
In several cases, security officers went beyond even these standard methods of torture. One former detainee told Human Rights Watch that police officers in a Cairo police station repeatedly raped him by inserting a stick into his anus. Another said that National Security officers at the Interior Ministry threatened to rape him. A former detainee held by National Security officers in a facility in Giza governorate said they pulled out one of his fingernails and bit off part of another. Another detainee held in the Interior Ministry said that a National Security officer there penetrated his arm with a metal nail wrapped in an electrified wire to increase the pain of the electric shocks. A lawyer held by National Security officers in a facility in Gharbiya governorate said that they wrapped a wire around his penis to shock him with electricity. Three former detainees told Human Rights Watch that security officers threatened to torture their family members if they did not confess.
In most cases, police and National Security officers stopped using torture once they obtained confessions or the names of suspects’ friends and acquaintances. But this did not mean that their ordeal had come to an end. In nearly every case, the torture and interrogations served as prelude to prosecutorial proceedings, some of which ended in trial