The Egyptian state security forces arrested thousands of people and tortured detainees in the wake of the Taba Hilton bombing in October, Human Rights Watch said in a report released Tuesday. Four months later, as many as 2,400 detainees are still being held incommunicado.
The 48 page report, “Mass Arrests and Torture in Sinai,” documents how, in the weeks and months after the bombing that killed 30 people, including Israelis, in the resort town of Taba, the State Security Investigation agency conducted mass arrests in northern Sinai without a warrant or judicial order as required by Egyptian law. The Egyptian authorities have identified only nine suspects as responsible for the Taba attack, but the ministry of interior continues to hold an estimated 2,400 detainees. The government has not released information on the whereabouts of these detainees either to their families or lawyers representing them, and has not indicated if any have been charged with crimes. “Egyptian security forces responded to the Taba atrocity by committing mass human rights abuses themselves,” said Joe Stork, Washington director of Human Rights Watch’s Middle East and North Africa Division. “The Mubarak government still hasn’t gotten the message that routine torture and arbitrary arrests violate the law and fail to address real security needs.”