The prevention of torture in Egypt

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

The Anti-Torture Unit of the National Council for Human Rights, in collaboration with the International Rehabilitation Council for Torture Victims, organized a round table discussion on the prohibition and prevention of torture and ill-treatment. The APT participated together with other international and Egyptian civil society organizations. The purpose of the roundtable was to identify ways of reducing and preventing torture and ill-treatment in Egypt, taking into consideration new opportunities opened up by the January 25th revolution, as well as challenges related to the current situation.

The APT participated actively in the discussion, which took place in Cairo on 28 June, and provided copies of APT’s publication to the participants. Moreover, the APT discussed with the other participants best ways forward to enhance torture prevention in Egypt.

The participants of the roundtable agreed on the need to enhance anti-torture mechanisms and strengthen legal and procedural safeguards against torture.

There was a clear consensus that accession to the Optional Protocol to the UN Convention against Torture (OPCAT) was a priority. Likewise, participants agreed that Egypt should allow for independent and judicial actors to monitor the treatment in places of detention. Extending an invitation to the Special Rapporteur on Torture was also viewed as a priority.

Other recommendations included the need for legislative changes, namely in the penal code, to bring the definition of torture into conformity with the Convention against Torture and the need for perpetrators of torture being brought to justice. The participants also stressed the importance of allowing lawyers to meet detainees from the first hour of detention and to be present during the interrogation, and the need to increase independent forensic capacities. Participants identified a need for raising public awareness and professional training on the absolute prohibition of torture and means to enforce this prohibition.

Finally, participants also underlined how important it was that the Supreme Military Council condemns all acts of torture and demonstrates its will for anti-torture reforms.

The National Council for Human Rights (NCHR) has summed-up the workshop’s conclusion and recommendations in a report that it has submitted to the Prime Minister, the Minister of Interior, the Attorney General and the Ministry of Defense.

 

Contact Person: Esther Schaufelberger, APT MENA Programme Officer