CALL ON EGYPT AND SUDAN TO PROSECUTE HUMAN TRAFFICKERS

CALL ON EGYPT AND SUDAN TO PROSECUTE HUMAN TRAFFICKERS 18 March 2014

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IGO backs the call by UN Human Rights Council to Egypt and Sudan to investigate and prosecute traffickers for kidnapping, torturing, and killing refugees in the Sinai Peninsula.

Since 2006, tens of thousands of Eritreans fleeing widespread human rights abuses and destitution in their country have ended up in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula. For four years, they passed through Sinai without problems and crossed into Israel. But since mid-2010, and as recently as November 2013, Sudanese traffickers have kidnapped Eritreans and sold them to Egyptian traffickers who have subjected at least hundreds to horrific violence in order to extort money from the victims’ relatives.

Many Eritreans have told the UN and other non-governmental organizations of their experiences of rape, burning, mutilation and deformation of limbs, electric shocks, and other forms of violence.

In some cases, these crimes are facilitated by collusion between traffickers and Sudanese and Egyptian police and the military that hand victims over to traffickers in police stations, turn a blind eye at checkpoints, and return escaped trafficking victims to traffickers.

The failure by both countries to prosecute traffickers and officials who support them breaches their obligations under the UN Convention against Torture, international human rights law, and, in Egypt’s case, national and international anti-trafficking laws.

To make matters worse, many Eritreans who are freed after their families pay ransom are intercepted by Egyptian border police. They are then detained for months in inhuman and degrading conditions while being denied access to urgent medical care. These actions violate Egypt’s 2010 law on combatting human trafficking, which says trafficking victims should receive assistance, protection, and immunity from prosecution.

IGO calls on Egypt and Sudan to put in place stringent measures to punish traffickers.

IGO also urges both countries to identify and prosecute any security officials who support the traffickers.