Torture in Egypt a ‘crime against humanity’, says rights groups

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A coalition of six rights groups has accused the Egyptian authorities of using torture as a political tool to curtail dissent and called on the United Nations to review Egypt’s rights record.

The report, submitted to the UN Committee against Torture, tracked the use of methods including “beatings, electrical shocks, sexual violence” and denial of access to medical care by members of the security services.

The coalition said that the “widespread and systematic” use of torture by the regular police and National Security officers probably amounts to a crime against humanity under customary international law.

The report also said that torture has been used to force suspects to confess or divulge information, or to punish them, targeting “human rights defenders, minorities, journalists, academics and opposition politicians”.

Egypt has long been criticised for its rights record during the decade-long rule of President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi who oversaw a crackdown on dissent. Rights groups estimate the country has around 60,000 political prisoners, many of whom have been subjected to brutal conditions and mistreatment.

Egyptian authorities have regularly denied torturing people in detention and dismissed the allegations as isolated acts of misconduct.

The UN committee will review Egypt’s record under the UN Convention against Torture in November. Under international law, torture is a crime of universal jurisdiction that can be prosecuted in any country.


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