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Last Updated: Monday, 11 April, 2005, 12:43 GMT 13:43 UK
Egyptian report denounces torture
By Heba Saleh
BBC News, Cairo

Egyptian riot police deploy for a demonstration in Cairo
Arbitrary arrest and torture are standard practice, the report says
A government-backed human rights council in Egypt has given official credence to widespread allegations of torture by the security forces.

The Egyptian Supreme Council for Human Rights first annual report is unexpectedly strong for a body funded and appointed by the government.

It has also recommended the lifting of the state of emergency which has been in force for 24 years.

Egypt has come under pressure from the US to introduce political reform.

'Standard practices'

The council says it is normal investigative practice for the Egyptian security forces to arrest everyone at the scene of the crime and torture them to obtain information.

Citing reports it received during the year, it says suspects in Egyptian police stations are given electric shocks, hung by their arms or legs from the ceiling, or beaten with sticks, whips and rifle butts.

These allegations have long been made by independent human rights groups, but it is the first time that a government-appointed body has endorsed them.

The council has also corroborated reports by independent groups which say the authorities detained and tortured hundreds of people after three bomb attacks against tourist resorts in the Sinai in October 2004.

Emergency law

In another unprecedented step for a government-affiliated body, the council has recommended the lifting of the emergency law ahead of presidential and parliamentary elections later this year.

It has also called on President Hosni Mubarak to issue a decree freeing detainees in poor health, and those who are still being held despite court orders to release them.

A human rights activist who sits on the Council, Hafez Abu Saada, says he now expects the Egyptian parliament to debate the report.


SEE ALSO:
Egypt students rally for reform
05 Apr 05 |  Middle East
Egypt opposition leader charged
22 Mar 05 |  Middle East
Mubarak 'opens the dungeon gate'
26 Feb 05 |  Middle East
Egypt opposition leader detained
01 Feb 05 |  Middle East
Country profile: Egypt
09 Apr 05 |  Country profiles


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