The Interior Ministry denied accusations of torturing and raping a minor inside a Nasr City police station, according to an official statement issued Wednesday.
Amnesty International issued a call on December 11 to release 14-year-old Mazen Mohamed Abdallah, after it documented that he was tortured in police custody, beaten, anally raped with a wooden stick and administered electric shocks on his genitals. His family, according to Amnesty, claimed that police were attempting to force him to confess to being a member of the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood.
The ministry, however, claimed that Abdallah was plotting to attack state institutions and burn police trucks in Nasr City on behalf of the Brotherhood. The statement added that the minor was arrested on October 7 following an order from the prosecution’s office.
Responding to claims by his lawyers that Abdallah should be referred to the Forensic Authority to prove that he was raped with a wooden stick, prosecution agreed to send him to be medically examined. The ministry then alleged that a Forensic Authority report confirmed that Abdallah was not raped.
In its statement, the ministry claimed that Abdallah was arrested based on a warrant from the prosecution, while his family explained to Amnesty that he was taken from his home a week earlier, on 30 September, by military forces, who did not show any prosecution or search warrants to the family. According to the rights watchdog, two military officers blindfolded the minor after going through his belongings and promised his mother that he would be returned home after they questioned him at the police station.
Abdallah’s family claim they could not determine the whereabouts of their son in the week between September 30 and October 7, and filed a report with the prosecutor general. During this week, Abdallah was detained at an unknown location where he was repeatedly tortured before he was transferred to a Nasr City police station. There, according to his family, the torture intensified and national security officers told him that his parents would be arrested if he redacted his “confession.”
Abdallah’s case is also emblematic of the widespread forced disappearances that have occurred over the course of the past few years. Forced disappearances have been documented by several human rights organizations, including Human Rights Watch, the Freedom for the Brave Campaign and the Association for Freedom of Thought and Expression (AFTE), among others.
According to the Stop Forced Disappearances campaign, there were at least 215 cases of forced disappearances over the course of August and September 2015.
Abdallah’s case also comes amid mounting criticism of security forces over cases of torture and police brutality that have surfaced in the past two months. Two incidents caused particularly widespread public outrage in Luxor and Ismailia, where citizens Talaat Shabeeb and Afify Hosny were tortured to death while in police custody. Officers implicated in both cases were transferred to criminal court following angry protests in the two cities. A recent report by Al-Nadeem Center for the Rehabilitation of Torture Victims claimed that nine citizens were tortured to death inside police stations in November alone.
The center’s director, Aida Seif al-Dawla, explained to Mada Masr that the reason for the Interior Ministry’s swift response in Abdallah’s case is due to the fact that it was documented by Amnesty International. “Amnesty would never publicize a case like this until after it had been properly investigated and documented, given that he is a minor as well. The Interior Ministry cannot then ignore such a case,” she stated.
However, denial is a typical response by the Interior Ministry. “Accusations are made against local and international organizations and anyone who points out the ministry’s violations. Whoever wants to believe the torture reports will believe them no matter how much the ministry denies them, and those who don’t want to believe them will always trust the ministry,” she explained.
Seif al-Dawla is disappointed by the official and public response toward reports of torture by the ministry. She specifically referred to two recent press conferences held by local rights organizations and the Journalists Syndicate last week, where the absence of political parties, as well as general public interest, was notable.
“People do not want to know about torture. When you know, you have a responsibility [to act]. Those who are not directly affected by torture do not want to deal with this kind of ‘nuisance’,” she asserted.