Responding to reports of torture and rape in prisons, the Deputy Minister of Interior for Media, Abdel Fattah Othman, said in a phone interview Tuesday night with TV host Gaber al-Qarmouty that prisons have become as accommodating as hotels.
According to statistics by Wikithawra, an independent website documenting events since 2011, over 41,000 people have been arrested during the last year, and 53 have died in custody.
Inmates and their families complain daily of mistreatment and torture in prisons.
A report by the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights released last June concluded that living conditions and health care in prisons do not meet the minimum required standards, endangering prisoners’ lives. The report was based on interviews with recently released detainees, in addition to families and lawyers, and covered 17 prisons and police stations.
“These reports only appeared after certain political activists, who have a lot of experience with social media and with starting such rumors, were detained,” Othman claimed.
Over the last month, three inmates have died in Mattariya police station. Following the deaths, the prosecution visited the police station and concluded that conditions are inhumane, according to state-owned Al-Ahram newspaper. According to the prosecution’s report, the inmates are crammed into small rooms, endangering their lives.
On Tuesday, Yanayer Gate published the testimony of a detained Al-Azhar University student, who said a police officer raped her last December. The student told Yanayer that she was picked up from college during clashes as she was heading to an exam. She said the officer raped her in the police vehicle when she confronted him for assaulting another detainee.
While accepting that there have been mistakes from the police, Othman says that it’s the same as any other profession and that the media places too much focus on it. “The police make an effort to raise the awareness of officers, especially those in the field, in terms of dealing with citizens and personal safety, but the feeling of responsibility differs from one person to another, and this is human nature.”