Torture Under Mubarak Regime Fueled Protests, Rights Group Says

Torture and police abuse under the regime of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak were one of the main causes of the protests that have engulfed the country for more than a week, Human Rights Watch said.

The 95-page report, entitled “Work on Him Until he Confesses: Impunity for Torture in Egypt,” documents dozens of cases of torture and death in custody, the New-York-based organisation said in a report released today.

“The Egyptian government’s foul record on this issue is a huge part of what is still bringing crowds onto the streets today,” Joe Stork, deputy director of the group’s Middle East and North Africa division.

Opposition movements have declared a nationwide strike and plan to stage a demonstration of a million people in Cairo today to force Mubarak out of office, following seven days of protests. The demonstrations have left more than 100 people dead and roiled international stock, bond and oil markets, with investors concerned unrest may spread to other countries in the region or lead to the closure of the Suez Canal.

Law enforcement officers “routinely and deliberately use torture and ill-treatment -- in ordinary criminal cases as well as with political dissidents and security detainees -- to coerce confessions, extract other information, or simply to punish detainees,” the report said.

Human Right Watch said it called for “immediate legal, structural, and political reforms to ensure that the judicial system holds perpetrators of torture accountable and deters future abuse.” It also called on the European Union and the U.S. to speak out publicly against torture in Egypt.

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