CAIRO (AP) _ An Egyptian rights group on Tuesday accused the country’s police of “acting like a gang,” torturing detainees and continuing to use violence to impose control while the country’s president flounders at efforts to reform the powerful security apparatus.
The report released by The Egyptian Initiative For Personal Rights documented 16 cases of police violence in which 11 people were killed and 10 tortured inside police stations. Three died under torture during the first four months since President Mohammed Morsi took office on June 30, it said.
The police were among the most hated state institutions under Hosni Mubarak, Egypt‘s longtime ruler deposed in a popular revolt in 2011. Flagrant abuse, torture and unjustified detention were some of the main drivers of the uprising.
“Police still use excessive force and torture is still systematic just as it was under the Mubarak regime,” the group said in its report, entitled “Killing Continues.” It also accused the police of carrying out random shootings and collective punishment.
There was no immediate comment from the government.
The group said the cases it investigated show the police still operate with impunity and a complete absence of accountability, with an increasing number of cases where officers had acted “like a gang taking revenge.”
In one case, it said police attacked a village south of Cairo last summer, beating up pedestrians, smashing shops and destroying vehicles. When residents protested, police returned the next day, firing tear gas and live ammunition at random, leaving four villagers dead and others wounded.
In another case, a police force allegedly trashed coffee shops and beat people in a village in the Nile Delta region northeast of Cairo in September. The group said one young man was arrested and beaten to death inside a police station.
When angry residents protested the killing in front of the police station, police responded by firing on the crowd, killing one and injuring another. The Interior Ministry said in a statement at the time that officers fired to prevent residents’ from storming the station.
That same month, the group documented three deaths inside police stations in three different cities, where it said the official cause of death was a suspicious “suicide” or “drop in blood pressure.”
In a third and similar incident in southern Egypt, the group said police took revenge for the killing of one of their own. The group says they “imposed collective punishment” by opening fire randomly in the streets, attacking residents and injuring a 9-year-old girl with a bullet to the head.
Egypt witnessed an unprecedented collapse of its police force during the early days of the 2011 uprising, when tens of thousands of protesters outnumbered riot police and even chased them in the streets. Nearly 850 protesters were killed during the 18-day revolt. Some 100 policemen were charged with killing protesters, but almost all have been acquitted or seen the charges dropped.