The cases of Egyptian citizens losing their lives as a result of torture in detention centers, prisons, and secret headquarters of the National Security Agency continues unabated, without any deterrent or fear. This is due to the guarantee provided to the police officers and personnel of the Ministry of Interior to escape punishment and avoid accountability for these crimes.
In a report by the United Nations Human Rights Committee on the review of Egypt’s compliance with civil and political rights, issued in March 2023, the Committee expressed concern about the systematic use of torture by law enforcement officials in Egypt. It highlighted that torture and ill-treatment are widespread in places of deprivation of liberty and are practiced extensively by the police and state security agencies during arrest, interrogation, and investigation stages.
The case of Mahmoud Tawfik, a politically detained citizen who died as a result of torture, is a clear and loud indication of the systematic crime of torture and impunity in the detention centers in Egypt. Mahmoud Tawfik was arrested approximately two weeks ago, on June 25, 2023, from his home on Ezz Street in the Kom Al-Shakafa area of Karmouz, Alexandria Governorate.
Eyewitnesses to Tawfik’s arrest have reported that the security forces attacked him and his family members with excessive force. The situation escalated dramatically when a security officer allegedly harassed his wife, which led to heightened confrontations fueled by Tawfik’s intense anger as he attempted to protect his family. Subsequently, the security forces allegedly subjected him to lethal beatings, destroyed household items, and threw furniture from the ninth floor. Tawfik was then taken to an undisclosed location. Despite these accounts, the Egyptian Ministry of Interior has merely attributed the cause of Tawfik’s death to an ‘Acute circulatory collapse’.
Furthermore, following Tawfik’s disappearance, a state of terror engulfed his family due to concerns about his fate, as well as in his neighborhood where he resided. Security forces seized surveillance footage from the cameras installed in Tawfik’s residence and the surrounding shops that captured the incident. This action constitutes a flagrant violation and raises significant doubts and suspicions about Tawfik’s fate and life.
Moreover, after his family learned of his death and received his body, the security forces refused to hold a funeral for him. His body was buried under tight security measures, and security forces imposed a security siege around the house.
The undersigned organizations hereby affirm that the denial and dismissal of the Egyptian Ministry of Interior regarding the incident, and the claim that Tawfik’s death was due to circulatory collapse, without conducting any investigations into the incident or clarifying what happened to him, is an indictment, especially considering the repeated recurrence of the same narrative in all cases of murder inside prisons and detention facilities. Mahmoud Tawfik’s concealment throughout the period leading up to the announcement of his death without being presented to the prosecution confirms that his death was a result of the torture inflicted upon him by the police.
The seizure of surveillance footage from the cameras installed in Tawfik’s residence and the surrounding shops also indicates the Egyptian authorities’ intention to cover up the incident and ensure the impunity of the perpetrators, contradicting international human rights laws and Egyptian laws that require the respect of the human dignity of detainees.
In light of the above, the undersigned organizations call for a serious, transparent, and swift investigation into the death of the Egyptian citizen, Mahmoud Tawfik, to clarify the circumstances of his death and disappearance before its announcement. This includes determining the location where he died and holding those responsible accountable for the deterioration of his health, which ultimately led to his death.
The undersigned organizations also urge international and United Nations mechanisms to pressure the Egyptian authorities to stop systematic torture within detention centers and the policy of impunity that the authorities in Egypt have adopted.
Article 55 Coalition:
- Committee for Justice (CFJ)
- El Shehab Center for Human Rights (SHR)
- Egyptian Network for Human Rights
- Arab Foundation for Civil and Political Rights-Nedal
- Their Right
- We Record