Amnesty report says hundreds disappeared and tortured in Egypt

Hundreds of Egyptians have been forcibly disappeared for varying periods and tortured by the country's National Security Agency (NSA) as part of a clampdown on dissent, Amnesty International charged on Wednesday.

Those disappeared include at least two 14-year-olds, the international rights group said. The mother of one of them told Amnesty that her son had been electrocuted and raped with a wooden stick during interrogations.

In a report released on Wednesday, Amnesty said that since the beginning of 2015 "at least several hundred" Eygptians had been disappeared for a minimum of 48 hours, and in some cases for several months, before turning up in custody.

Local rights groups reported an "average of three or four people subjected to enforced disappearance each day since the beginning of 2015," Amnesty said.

Disappearances were used "to enable the NSA to torture detainees with impunity" and "to intimidate government critics ... and to deter dissent," it said.

Most of the victims were supporters of ousted Islamist president Mohammed Morsi, but they also included secular activists and people apparently detained solely because of family connections, Amnesty said.

Amnesty said it was not possible to give a precise number of the disappearances, because of official secrecy and relatives' fears that speaking out would further endanger victims.

The rights organization charged that Egyptian prosecutors were complicit in the practice by failing to investigate abuses and basing charges on confessions extracted under torture.

"The report delivers scathing criticism of Egypt's public prosecution, which has been complicit in these violations and cruelly betrayed their duty under Egyptian law to protect people from enforced disappearances, arbitrary arrest, torture and other ill-treatment," said Philip Luther, director of the Amnesty's Middle East and North Africa program.

European governments and the United States "blindly supply security and police equipment to Egypt," the report said, and "have appeared overly reluctant to criticize the deteriorating human rights conditions in Egypt."

The Eyptian Interior Ministry, which is responsible for the NSA, has repeatedly denied that it detains anyone outside the law.

However, in January, in response to complaints from families compiled by the government-appointed National Council for Human Rights, it acknowledged the detention of more than 100 people whose relatives said they had been disappeared - although it said they had been held legally.

Egyptian authorities have clamped down on dissent since President Abdel-Fattah al-Sissi, then head of the armed forces, ousted Morsi in 2013 amid mass protests against the Islamist leader's increasingly unpopular rule.

Last update: Wed, 13/07/2016 - 11:27

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