Human Rights Watch released a 79-page report documenting testimony from hundreds of Eritrean refugees who have been confined in torture camps in Sudan and Egypt over the past 10 years. The victims endured weeks or months of violence and rape extorted by traffickers, often with the consent of state security forces.
Some of the exiles have died, yet many have survived the combined physical and psychological trauma of mutilation, burning, beatings and sexual assault.
The report, I Wanted to Lie Down and Die: Trafficking and Torture of Eritreans in Sudan and Egypt, asserts state authorities have failed to identify and indict wrongdoers, having instead colluded in the kidnapping and mistreatment of refugees.
Traffickers demand ransom money either from the refugees or their relatives, who are forced to listen to agonized loved ones over the telephone.
The report quotes a 23-year-old Eritrean man who was kidnapped by traffickers in Sudan in 2012 and handed over to Egyptian traffickers in the Sinai desert. “They beat me with a metal rod. They dripped molten plastic on my back. They beat the soles of my feet and then they forced me to stand for long periods of time, sometimes for days. Sometimes they threatened to kill me and put a gun to my head.”
HRW also spoke to two traffickers, one of whom said he had made $200,000 profit in less than a year. “I know this money is haram [shameful], but I do it anyway.”
Harriet Sherwood, “Hundreds of Eritreans Enslaved in Torture Camps in Sudan and Egypt,” UK Guardian, February 11, 2014, http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/feb/11/eritreans-enslaved-traffickers-sudan-egypt-torture-camps.
Gerry Simpson, “’I Wanted to Lie Down and Die’: Trafficking and Torture of Eritreans in Sudan and Egypt,” February 11, 2014, Human Rights Watch, http://www.hrw.org/reports/2014/02/11/i-wanted-lie-down-and-die-0.
Student Researcher: Gabrielle Garcia (Florida Atlantic University)
Faculty Evaluator: James F. Tracy (Florida Atlantic University)