Target Traffickers Who Detain, Torture, Sexually Assault Hundreds.
SEPTEMBER 5, 2012
(New York) – Egypt should use its increased security force presence in the Sinai Peninsula to free hundreds of migrants held for ransom and abused by human traffickers and other criminals. The authorities should detain, investigate, and prosecute the traffickers.
Human Rights Watch has documented the trafficking of the mostly sub-Saharan migrants and asylum seekers in Sinai, who are tortured and sexually assaulted to press their relatives for ransom. Under Mubarak, law enforcement officials did not intervene to protect the victims, although Egypt has a strong anti-trafficking law. President Muhammad Morsy ordered security forces to “impose full control” over Sinai following the August 5, 2012, attack on a security post on the border with Israel that left 16 Egyptian soldiers dead.
“Thousands of sub-Saharan asylum seekers and migrants attempting to cross the Sinai have fallen victim to abusive traffickers and other criminals,” said Joe Stork, deputy director of the Middle East and North Africa division at Human Rights Watch. “Egypt’s new government should use its increased law enforcement operations to rescue victims of trafficking and end these abuses.”
Credible sources in Cairo confirmed to Human Rights Watch a steady increase in the number of trafficking victims who have been tortured, raped, and otherwise sexually assaulted over the past two years.