CAIRO: Members of the human rights committee in the People’s Assembly (PA) decided Saturday to conduct random inspections of Egyptian police stations and places of detention.
MP Mahmoud Amer, affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood, told Daily News Egypt that the initiative was a response to dire conditions inside police stations and widespread abuse of power by the police.
“Serious violations regularly occur inside police stations and are committed by armed policemen, Amer said.
“Just last week three people died after being shot by police officers.
On Friday one man died and another was injured when they were shot by an off-duty policeman, Adel El-Shahed, following an altercation involving El-Shahed’s brother.
“Visits will be conducted to police stations in Giza and Alexandria in order to assess the treatment of people in custody and uncover cases of illegal detention, Amer said.
Amer says that the visits will begin after the Eid Al-Adha break mid-December.
Egyptian and international NGOs regularly criticize what they say is systematic torture and abuse inside Egyptian police stations and places of detention.
Suzan Fayyad, from the Nadim Center for the Rehabilitation of the Victims of Violence, questioned the effectiveness of visits announced in advance.
“To be effective, visits must not be announced in advance so as not to give police officers the opportunity to move torture victims and hide abuse, Fayyad told Daily News Egypt.
“The PA’s human rights committee is an official body and the interior ministry will be notified of its visits in advance. NGOs should have the right to visit all areas of detention, not just police stations.
Adel Ramadan, a lawyer with the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights, echoed this.
“While this is a positive step of sorts, the PA should play a stronger role in combating torture, Ramadan said.
“The heads of district prosecution offices are responsible for monitoring conditions in police stations, and they have the right to search a police station at any time, without prior notification, whenever news of abuse reaches them.
Unfortunately, he continued, the prosecution office rarely fulfils this duty. If it did, conditions inside police stations would improve significantly.
“Visits conducted by the PA human rights committee in coordination with the interior ministry will not be effective.