Victims of human trafficking in Egypt and Sudan testified that security officials had facilitated the mission of traffickers, which has included the abduction, torture and sometimes death of captives, Human Rights Watch (HRW) revealed in a report issued on Tuesday.
The report condemns Egyptian authorities for repeatedly denying the occurrence of human trafficking in the Sinai, saying that this lack of acknowledgement has made the peninsula “a safe haven” for traffickers. According to the report, Egyptian and Sudanese traffickers have been abducting mostly Eritrean victims since 2010 and torturing them, seeking bribes from their families. The torture, which includes rape, burning and mutilation, has led to the deaths of some victims.
According to the report, 29 witnesses testified that Egyptian and Sudanese security officials facilitated the violations of the traffickers rather than arrest them and save the victims.
Furthermore, survivors told HRW they had witnessed Egyptian police officers colluding with traffickers at borders, check points and even in detention camps and houses where the victims were held. They also testified that police forces in Sudan handed them back to traffickers.
According to the report, Egyptian prosecution has pursued only one of the traffickers’ accomplices in Cairo, while Sudanese prosecution has processed 14 cases.
“Egypt and Sudan are giving allegedly corrupt security officials a free pass to work with traffickers,” said Gerry Simpson, senior refugee researcher for HRW and author of the report. “The time has long passed for Egypt and Sudan to stop burying their heads in the sand and take meaningful action to end these appalling abuses.”
By the end of 2013, Sudan had prosecuted four members of the police force for activity related to human trafficking, while Egypt prosecuted none, the report stated.