Eleven civil society organisations expressed on Monday their concern regarding the violence detainees in Wadi Al-Natrun Prison have been allegedly subjected to.
Lawyers of the said detainees have accused security forces of torturing their clients last week. Lawyers added that they have been denied access to the detainees.
The organisations which signed Monday’s statement called for an “immediate, neutral and comprehensive” investigation into the alleged assaults. They also called for “immediately” referring the allegedly assaulted detains to the Forensics Authority to look into injuries they sustained before such injuries fade with time.
The signatory organisations, which include the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights, the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information and Al-Nadeem Centre for the Rehabilitation of Torture Victims, renewed their call for being allowed to send a delegation to visit Wadi Al-Natrun Prison. In February, the Ministry of Interior said it welcomed visits by human rights organisations, whether official or civil, to detention facilities. The organisations nevertheless accused the ministry of “obstinacy” regarding the implementation of such a visit.
“The continuation of practicing torture in detention facilities is a strong insult to the 2014 constitution and for those who participated in the constitutional referendum,” the organisations’ statement read. Article 52 of the constitution states: “Torture in all of its forms is a crime not subject to statute of limitations.”
The signatory organisations added that the absence of independent monitoring of prisons facilitates the occurrence of violations.
The organisations stressed the importance of signing the optional protocol of the 1984 United Nations Convention against Torture. The protocol allows for independent visits to prison facilities as a measure to protect detainees from ill-treatment.
The statement detailed violations detainees in sectors 430 and 440 of the Wadi Al-Natrun Prison have allegedly faced. Sector 430 mostly hosts defendants preventively detained, including 39 students arrested after clashes which occurred in Cairo University on 16 January, as well as 125 detainees arrested from Dokki during protests commemorating the third anniversary of the January 2011 revolution.
Over 1,000 protesters have been arrested during demonstrations marking the third anniversary of the revolution. Their detention conditions have been condemned by several human rights organisations, including Amnesty International. The Ministry of Interior, however, denied torture allegations reported by those who had been preventively detained.
Sector 440 accommodates defendants preventively detained in light of the forcible dispersal of the pro-Mohamed Morsi encampments of Rabaa Al-Adaweya and Al-Nahda on 14 August 2013. It also hosts detainees arrested two days later from Ramses Square following deadly clashes with security forces.
Prisoners in Wadi El-Natrun began rioting on 31 May following the death of one prisoner due to a heart-attack.