197. The Committee considered the third periodic report of Egypt (CAT/C/34/Add.11) at its 382nd, 385th and 389th meetings, held on 7, 10 and 12 May 1999 (CAT/C/SR.382, 385 and 389) and has adopted the following conclusions and recommendations.
198. The Committee welcomes the third periodic report of Egypt, submitted some two and a half years late, but generally in accordance with the requirements for such a report. The Committee also welcomes the verbal introduction to the report by the Egyptian representatives.
2. Positive aspects
199. The release of large numbers of persons held under the Emergency Act, 1958.
200. The reduction of complaints of maltreatment by persons detained under the Emergency Act, 1958.
201. The broad literacy and educational programme undertaken by the Egyptian Government.
202. The creation of the Office of Human Rights in the Public Prosecutor’s Department to investigate complaints of, inter alia, torture.
203. The Committee was pleased to learn of improvements in the quality of some of the Egyptian prisons.
204. The Committee was also pleased to learn that “hundreds” of torture victims have been compensated by the Egyptian civil courts.
205. The Committee is encouraged by the extensive dialogue in which it engaged with the Egyptian delegation.
3. Factors and difficulties impeding the application of the provisions of the Convention
206. The ongoing state of emergency in response to the persistent terrorist threat. This seems to have created a culture of violence among certain elements of the police and security forces. Such terrorist threat, of course, may not be invoked as justification for breaches of the provisions of the Convention, especially articles 1, 2 and 16.
4. Subjects of concern
207. The large number of allegations of torture and even of death relating to detainees made against both the police and the State Security Intelligence.
208. Despite the improvements made by the Government, the conditions of some prisons in Egypt.
209. The allegation from the World Organization against Torture of treatment of female detainees, by both the police and the State Security Intelligence, which sometimes involves sexual abuse or threat of such abuse in order to obtain information relating to husbands or other family members.
210. The Committee is seriously concerned at allegations that persons have been held in police or State Security Intelligence custody in defiance of court orders to release them.
211. The Committee recommends that Egypt take effective measures to prevent torture in police and State Security Intelligence custody and that all perpetrators be vigorously prosecuted.
212. It also recommends that effective steps be taken to protect women from threats of sexual abuse by police and officers of the State Security Intelligence as a means of obtaining information from them.
213. It further recommends that a proper registry of detainees, both police and State Security Intelligence, which is accessible to members of the public, be established and maintained.
214. The Committee encourages the Egyptian Government to continue with its policy of upgrading its prison facilities.
215. The Government of Egypt should provide the Committee with information in writing concerning the number and circumstances of deaths in custody over the past five years.
216. The Committee urges Egypt to consider making a declaration in favour of articles 21 and 22 of the Convention.