2011-01-28 Cable: Torture and police brutality in Egypt are endemic and widespread

US State cable 2009-01-15: 09CAIRO79 is titled SUBJECT: GOE STRUGGLING TO ADDRESS POLICE BRUTALITY. The title is directly contradicted by the cable which concludesThe GOE has not begun serious work on trying to transform the police and security services from instruments of power that serve and protect the regime into institutions operating in the public interest.

Torture and police brutality in Egypt are endemic and widespread. The police use brutal methods mostly against common criminals to extract confessions, but also against demonstrators, certain political prisoners and unfortunate bystanders. … NGO contacts estimate there are literally hundreds of torture incidents every day in Cairo police stations alone. Egyptians are bombarded with consistent news reports of police brutality, ranging from high profile incidents such as accidental but lethal police shootings in Salamut and Aswan this past fall (refs B and C) that sparked riots, to reports of police officers shooting civilians following disputes over traffic tickets. In November 2008 alone, there were two incidents of off-duty police officers shooting and killing civilians over petty disputes.

… the police proceeded to beat a female suspect into confessing about others involved in the theft and the whereabouts of the stolen valuables. A contact from an international NGO described witnessing police beat the doorman of an upscale Cairo apartment building into disclosing the apartment number of a suspect. Another contact at a human rights NGO told us that her friends do not report thefts from their apartments because they do not want to subject “all the doormen” in the vicinity to police beatings.

“Police officers feel they are above the law and protected by the public prosecutor.” Human rights lawyer XXXXXXXXXXXX attributed police brutality against common criminals, including the use of electric shocks, to the problem of demoralized officers facing long hours and their own economic problems. He asserted that the police will even beat lawyers who enter police stations to defend their clients. 

… when MB members mobilize people against the government in a way the regime deems threatening, such as the April 6 Facebook strike (ref D). According to XXXXXXXXXXXX, the MB-affiliated blogger and “April 6 Movement” member XXXXXXXXXXXX whom police arrested November 20 (ref A) falls into this category, and the GOE is probably torturing him to scare other “April 6” members into abandoning their political activities. XXXXXXXXXXXX’s assessment tracks with “April 6” member XXXXXXXXXXXX’s accounts of his own torture and the alleged police sexual molestation of a female “April 6” activist this past November (ref A). Bloggers close to XXXXXXXXXXXX told us that following his arrest he was tortured severely with electric shocks and needed to be hospitalized, but that security forces stopped the torture when he began cooperating. 

… alleged standing orders from the Interior Ministry between 2000 and 2006 for the police to shoot, beat and humiliate judges in order to undermine judicial independence …

For example, in October 2008, a court sentenced a policeman to three years in prison for beating and drowning a fisherman. In November 2008, a court sentenced two policemen to three years in prison for hooking a man to their car and dragging him to his death. XXXXXXXXXXXXX characterized the sentences as “light,” in proportion to the crimes, but commented that any prison sentences are an important development toward holding the police responsible for crimes.

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