The number of people dying in Egyptian detention centres rose by a further 100 in 2020, taking the total number of deaths over 1,000 since the Egyptian dictatorship seized power in 2013, a new report says.
The report, The Giulio Regenis of Egypt, by the Geneva-based Committee for Justice, tracks deaths inside Egyptian prisons, official and unofficial detention centres since 2013, with a special focus on deaths that occurred from January to October 2020. The overall total has now reached 1,056.
Giulio Regeni was an Italian student and researcher whose body was found in Cairo on 3 February 2016, with signs of torture. Italy this week charged four members of the Egyptian security forces with his death.
The CFJ’s director, Ahmed Mefreh, said: “Regeni was not the only victim of the Egyptian authorities. After him came the French citizen Eric Lang, the American James Henry Lawne, and others who were killed in cold blood and without accountability for their killers and torturers so far, amid suspicious international silence, and an urgent call to press for investigations into the deaths of foreigners and Egyptians inside detention centres in Egypt.”
Since the military’s takeover of the government in 2013, a total of 731 have died in detention centres due to denial of healthcare, followed by 144 deaths due to torture, 67 through suicide, then 57 in poor conditions of detention and 29 deaths from other reasons.
Kenneth Roth, the executive director of Human Rights Watch, said the Egyptian president, Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi, was responsible for war crimes in the country’s claimed fight against terrorism in North Sinai, adding that the mass detention of peaceful Islamists probably itself fuelled terrorism.
The report comes in the week that the French president, Emmanuel Macron, said French sales of arms to Egypt would not take account of the country’s human rights record. Portraying the country as an ally of France in the fight against terrorism, Macron allowed red carpet treatment for Sisi when he visited France this week.
Many of the scenes honouring Sisi inside the Élysée Palace, including the granting of the Légion d’honneur, were not released by Macron’s communications team but instead by Egypt, an omission that led to the scenes being widely shared across France on social media. Macron also faced severe criticism from centre-left newspapers, challenging him to explain how he could square his support for Egypt with his espousal of European enlightenment values.