• March 21, 2001
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    Egypt law, policies encourage torture-rights group
Egypt law, policies encourage torture-rights group Egypt law, policies encourage torture-rights group CAIRO, March 19 (Reuters) - Egypt's legal, political and social climate encourages the use of torture during detention and leaves victims without adequate means of redress, an Egyptian human rights group said on Monday.
A key reason behind the spread of torture was the country's emergency law, which has been in force since the assassination of President Anwar Sadat in 1981, said a new report by the Human Rights Centre for the Assistance of Prisoners (HRCAP).
"The report states that the emergency law provides a fertile climate for the spread of torture, as it allows for long periods of detention without guarantees such as visiting rights and contact with lawyers," the centre said in a news release.
"Ninety-nine percent of the 1,124 cases included in the report were under the emergency law," it said.
The centre said deficiencies in the prison law and penal code, as well as political and social norms also encouraged the use of torture. At the same time, limited opportunities of redress for victims meant there was no deterrent for offenders.
"Citizens have no way of taking their torturers to court according to the criminal code procedures as they are deprived of the right to file direct court cases against police officers," the statement said.
While some victims have received government compensation, it said the money was taken from public funds "while those who commit torture do not bear any responsibility or obligation."
"HRCAP requests comprehensive political and constitutional reform starting with the repeal of the emergency law," it said.
"The recommendations also emphasise the need for establishing a basic climate that guarantees respect for human rights in democratic societies," it said, calling for "real" political plurality, freedom of the press, independence of the judiciary, rule of law and "free and fair elections."

Egypt has said in the past that it investigates reports of torture and prosecutes any perpetrators.
The U.S. State Department said in its annual human rights report in February that eight people were reported to have died last year in Egyptian jails after torture.
International human rights watchdog Amnesty International said last month that torture remained widespread in Egyptian police stations and detention centres.
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