Essam Atta Mohammed


Egyptian Military Police arrested Essam Atta on 25 February 2011 for allegedly being involved in a street fight in the Al-Muqattam neighbourhood in Cairo.

The arrest was made during the nationwide demonstrations that had led to the resignation of the then President Hosni Mubarak on 11 February 2011.

Essam worked as a shoemaker and was 25 at the time of his arrest. He was single and lived with his family. Essam was tortured to death in Tora Prison, Cairo. Prior to his death he was arbitrarily detained, tried and sentenced by a military court.

Fellow prison inmates said that following a visit from his mother and fiancé to prison on 25 October 2011, prison officers in Tora prison took Essam to a “discipline room”.

Once in the room, they claim he was ordered to strip and to defecate in front of a prison guard, who accused him of having smuggled drugs into the prison.

According to one former fellow prisoner, when Essam refused, a prison officer ordered another officer to force a water hose into his anus and mouth.

He was also subjected to beatings and forced to drink what they believed was a mix of laundry detergent, oil, salt and tobacco.

Essam himself spoke to his family about this ordeal on 26 October, stating that he was suffering and believed he was dying.

On 27 October, Essam felt very sick and was repeatedly vomiting, according to fellow prison inmates.

Essam died in the prison shortly before his body was transferred to the hospital. Essam’s family did not receive the autopsy report until more than three months after the autopsy was carried out.

The Egyptian authorities’ investigations did not conform to international standards. They were riddled with inconsistencies and failed to take into account information and witness statements implicating prison staff and officials in his torture and death.


This complaint was submitted to the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR) on behalf of Mohammad Atta, Essam’s brother, on 26 January 2016.

The complainant is represented by REDRESS, the El Nadim Centre and the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR).

On 10 June 2016, we submitted our admissibility arguments, which the ACHPR has since transmitted to Egypt.

We submitted that several rights of Essam, recognised in the African Charter, were violated by State officials, including his right to life, to be free from torture and to a fair trial.

We argued that the insertion of a tube into Essam’s anus constituted rape amounting to torture in violation of Article 5 of the African Charter.

We also argued that by failing to conduct an effective investigation into the events that led to Essam’s death, his family’s right to know the truth was also violated.


Case pending


  • Case Name: Mohammad Atta v. Egypt
  • Court/Body: African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights
  • Date Filed: 26 January 2016
  • Current Status: Case pending
  • Legal representation: REDRESS, the El Nadim Centre and the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights.


Complainant: the party (as a plaintiff or petitioner) who makes the complaint in a legal action or proceeding.