In a statement released Thursday, the National Council of Human Rights (NCHR) denied allegations of torture and rape of political detainees inside Qanater women’s prison, but documented serious cases of mistreatment by female prison guards.
NCHR said that it received various complaints by families of female inmates, most of whom belong to the ousted Muslim Brotherhood group, about incidents of mistreatment, torture and sexual assault of political prisoners.
An NCHR delegation visited the prison and listened to the testimonies of the inmates in question. They concluded that a fight broke out between the political detainees and other inmates on June 10 and 11, which resulted in the beatings of the political detainees, one of whom was left bleeding for an entire day.
On the second day of altercations, female prison guards conducted an arbitrary inspection of the detainees, stripping them of their clothes and verbally insulting them.
NCHR said that the prosecution is already investigating the incidents, and suggested that the new prison bylaws be amended in a way that where the relationship between inmates and prison administration is defined more clearly. The council also recommended that the administration follow clear guidelines that prevent discrimination against certain detainees for their affiliations.
The group of the political detainees includes one Al-Azhar University professor and 17 students, who were arrested during clashes on campus in late December, and have been held in custody ever since. When their families visited the prison days after the assaults, the detainees told them they had been severely assaulted by other prisoners and guards.
The families of the detainees claimed that an altercation broke out between the professor and one guard, who incited other inmates to assault the professor and her students. The families had previously told Mada Masr that their daughters were stripped almost naked by prison guards in the presence of male police officers.
Immediately after these allegations were publicly made by the prisoners’ families, the Ministry of Interior’s Prisons Authority denied the claims of abuse, stating these were false reports intended to arouse sympathy for the detainees. The authority adheres to the principles of human rights, the Interior Ministry statement insisted.