Amnesty calls on Egypt to stop 'appalling reprisals' against nine torture whistleblowers

Amnesty calls on Egypt to stop 'appalling reprisals' against nine torture whistleblowers
Amnesty International has condemned Egypt for bringing charges against torture victims shown in videos where they detailed their abuse, saying that authorities were engaging in "appalling reprisals".
2 min read
14 March, 2022
Amnesty International said torture was "epidemic" in Egypt's prisons [Getty]

Amnesty International has called on Egyptian authorities to stop their "appalling reprisals" against detainees and family members who leaked videos to the media showing torture at a Cairo police station.

The human rights watchdog called on Egypt in a statement on Monday to release the detainees and drop the charges against them, which included "spreading false news", "membership in a terrorist group" and "aiding a terrorist group".

On 24 January, The Guardian reported that it had received videos showing detainees being tortured at a police station in the working-class Al-Salam district of northern Cairo.

In one video, detainees were shown being hung and suspended from a metal grate by their arms, which were tied behind their backs, while in another detainees displayed serious injuries and bruises on their heads, chests, and backs while saying, "they are hitting us with sticks".

Nine detainees were initially arrested for offences including drug possession and assault. At least one of them, 46-year-old Nasser Omran, was cleared.

However, instead of investigating the police officers for torturing the detainees, Egypt's Supreme State Security Prosecution (SSSP) brought new charges relating to "spreading false news" and "terrorism" against the detainees and three of their family members.

Omran has been re-arrested and Amnesty said he was "forcibly disappeared" between 9 February and 20 February before appearing before the SSSP.

"It is both shameful and surreal that the Egyptian authorities’ response to this video was to punish the victims and some of their friends instead of immediately investigating those caught on video in a stark illustration of Egypt’s epidemic of torture and other ill-treatment," Philip Luther, Amnesty's Middle East and North Africa Research and Advocacy Director said.

He said that police officers suspected of involvement in torture should be suspended and face criminal investigation, while detainees alleging torture should be protected from any kind of reprisal and allowed to testify confidentially.

"All those held solely in relation to disseminating the leaked videos must be immediately released since they were peacefully exercising their right to freedom of expression," Luther added.

Egypt's Ministry of Interior previously claimed that the videos leaked to The Guardian were fabricated. The Egyptian Prosecution later alleged that the detainees had been "incited by unknown individuals… to wound themselves" with a metal coin in order to "spread lies and instability".