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Huppert acts to stop human trafficking and torture in Sinai

November 6, 2012 11:06 AM

MP Julian Huppert has called on the government to act against human trafficking and torture in the Sinai region of Egypt.

Julian, newly appointed co-chair of the Lib Dem Parliamentary Policy Committee on Home Affairs, Justice and Equalities is worried by the appalling reports of human rights abuses at torture camps set up by smugglers of migrants and asylum seekers.

He wrote to Defence Minister, Philip Hammond urging him to make sure that a UK delegation of military personnel and field experts travelling to Egypt to advice on security issues in the Sinai region addresses the issue.

"Once taken hostage, prisoners are subject to long periods of physical abuse and torture, ransoms demanded and prisoners killed if release is not paid for," said Julian. "The location of these camps is known and it's reported that currently around 200 Eritrean hostages are being held in northeast Sinai.

"I'm sure you'll agree that this situation demands urgent action and I look forward to your assurances that this issue will be treated as a priority by the delegation."

Human Rights Watch has received numerous reports in recent years of organised criminal groups detaining asylum seekers and migrants in Sinai for extortion before allowing them to complete their journey to Israel.

Under President Mubarak, law enforcement officials failed to intervene to protect the victims despite the fact that Egypt has a strong anti-trafficking law.

Julian hopes the UK delegation can raise the issue with Egypt's new government so that it can rescue victims of trafficking and end the abuse.

"It is paramount that combating human trafficking and torture in Sinai is seen as a vital issue to be raised by this delegation," said Julian. "Migrants and asylum seekers are suffering horrific abuse at the hands of people purporting to help lead them to safety.

"This delegation must act if we are to help these people and make sure Egypt enforces its anti-trafficking law so that these practices come to an end."