The Shura Council’s National Security Committee called for reforming the Homeland Security sector of the Ministry of Interior in a meeting with the national security body on Monday, accusing them of torturing and mistreating citizens, and withholding information regarding the presence of Al-Qaeda in Egypt.
Essam Al-Badawy, representative of Homeland Security, denied both claims, saying that the sector is hard at work reforming its image from an entity whose past behaviours used to go against the present constitution and laws.
“Whoever delights in torture is mentally ill,” said Al-Badawy. “There is no enmity between us and anyone else and we work only within the bounds of the law.”
He heralded the Homeland Security’s management of the recent demonstrations by Salafi groups in front of their headquarters as an example of the sort of restraint to which the sector now aspires.
The Shura Council was not impressed by Al-Badawy’s defence, claiming that many of the sector’s old members who were known for engaging in torture are still present today. They called for the rebuilding of trust between the people and Homeland Security and the establishment of legislation to keep them in check.
The Shura Council is not the first to accuse the Interior Ministry of torture and human rights violations. Last week, The Egyptian Organisation for Human Rights (EOHR) submitted two cases of alleged torture by police to the prosecutor general for investigation.
“There is a continuation of the same practices and method adopted by the Ministry of Interior before the 25 January Revolution,” EOHR said in their statement to Tala’at Abdallah.
In February, a group of 13 human rights organisations released a statement calling for the reform of the ministry, in which they accused the Interior Ministry of human rights violations against citizens detained in demonstrations and outlined a 10-step initiative to “stop the crimes of the regime”.
Among their demands was the publishing of a final report on police and military abuses against protesters from January 2011 to June 2012. A fact-finding committee commissioned by President Mohamed Morsi submitted the report in question to the presidency last December but he has yet to publish it, drawing criticism from a number of human rights organisations, namely Human Rights Watch.
Additional reporting by Joel Gulhane and Basil El-Dabh.