The circumstances surrounding the death of a Frenchman while in Egyptian custody suggest a crime has occurred, according to the Egyptian Organisation for Human Rights (EOHR).
A French teacher living in Egypt died after being attacked by cellmates in a Cairo police station, where he had been detained for breaking a night-time curfew, security officials told AFP on Tuesday.
In a statement released on Wednesday, the EOHR condemned the man’s death, calling for opening an “immediate and comprehensive” investigation into the incident of the Frenchman’s death. It also urged an investigation into the means of dealing with detainees and prisoners.
On Wednesday, the Public Prosecution under Counselor Wael Shebl, the First Attorney General of Central Cairo Prosecutions, ordered the four day detention of six inmates accused of killing the Frenchman, reported German press agency DPA. The six men, originally held on charges of robbery, are accused of beating him to death.
The Ministry of Interior’s media office stated on Wednesday that the public prosecution has all the details regarding the incident and that they banned others from talking about it.
EOHR called on Egyptian authorities to adhere to international conventions on human rights which Egypt ratified. It also called for providing the minimal extent of humanitarian treatment within areas of detention and protecting detainees against any assault.
Hafez Abu Seada, EOHR director, said that the killing of the Frenchman while in custody violates the Universal Declaration of Human Rights as well as several other international conventions ratified by Egypt.
Abu Seada stated that the continued incidence of torture inside Egyptian detention facilities indicates that the Ministry of Interior’s policies have not changed “despite the 25 January revolution and the 30 June revolutionary wave.”
“The crime of torture violates the most basic human rights, that is, the rights to freedom and to personal security,” the statement read. Abu Seada added that the Egyptian law falls short of defining the crime of torture in a manner which complies with the United Nations Convention against Torture.
The UN convention defines torture as: “any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as obtaining from him or a third person information or a confession, punishing him for an act he or a third person has committed or is suspected of having committed, or intimidating or coercing him or a third person, or for any reason based on discrimination of any kind…”
EOHR condemned the definition of torture in Egyptian law since it limits torture to inflicting pain or suffering for the purpose of obtaining a confession. It called for legislative amendments to make the laws comply with international conventions.
The Frenchman was arrested in Zamalek, Cairo last week for violating the night curfew in force since the forcible dispersal of two encampments set up by supporters of ousted president Mohamed Morsi on 14 August.
The man was jailed in a cell at the Qasr Al-Nil police station, where he was attacked by his cellmates and later died of his injuries, AFP reported.