Egyptian Front condemns the government’s negligence of the lives and destinies of the detained during the current critical coronavirus situation. Whereas the public prosecution, prison authorities, and the university administrations imposed a number of restrictions that prevent the detainees from pursuing their academic studies. in addition to the escalating violations committed against the detainees as they are currently isolated from the outside world under the pretext of fighting coronavirus.
The general secondary education exam (Thanaweya Amma) commenced on June 11, 2020. The Prison Sector in the Ministry of Interior (MOI) has announced their coordination with the Ministry of Education in order to prepare the examination hall inside the prison for detained students, with the government’s plan to curb coronavirus, the (MOI) assured that it has taken all required precautionary measures and has sanitized all examination setting.
Every year, the (MOI) assures its “respect to human rights and to the right of education for the detainees”. However, this is not true as students in other grade levels were not payed attention to. As a result, those students are still not able to fulfill the requirements of the completion of their academic year.
Due to the coronavirus outbreak in the country, the Ministry of Education has substituted the final exams with research to be conducted and submitted online by the school and the faculty. This action turned to be not strategic and inconvenient especially for detained students.
Article 31 of Prison Regulation Law No. 396 for the year 1956 stipulates that: “The prison administration shall encourage prisoners to read and learn, facilitate study for prisoners who want to pursue their studies and allow them to take the examinations in the locations where they are held.” Also, article no 104 of Nelson Mandela Rules stipulates that “Provision shall be made for the further education of all prisoners capable of profiting thereby….and special attention shall be paid to it by the prison administration.” It also added that “So far as practicable, the education of prisoners shall be integrated with the educational system of the country so that after their release they may continue their education without difficulty”
In the current times, the law regarding the Education of prisoners is not fully enforced as the aforementioned three institutions: (public prosecution, prison administrations, and universities administrations) practiced intransigence against detainees amid coronavirus breakout.
An example to this intransigence is that the detainee is required to extract an official approval in order to know his research topics as well as send the research to the school/faculty in order to fulfill the requirements of the academic year.
Egyptian Front has documented with a lawyer of five college students held in pre-trial detention. they confirmed that they were not able to fulfil the required legal proceedings in order for the detainees to submit their research papers to their faculties. Also, the university refuses to disclose any information about the researches or exams without documents that include the details of the case upon which the student is held. Meanwhile, the public prosecution currently refuses requests to issue this kind of documents.
This comes in contradiction to measures taken in the past years regarding exams taking of defendants. The lawyers would get the required statement from the prosecution then submit it to the university in order to get the exam schedule and the seating number of the detained student in the exam hall. And the universities had coordinated the process of holding exams in prisons or sending a committee from the university to take the researches or the graduate work from the prisons, which is absent this year.
One of the lawyers assured his client still needs to take an exam of one subject remaining from the previous academic year. However, until the moment of writing this, procedures taken in order for him to take his exam inside the prison is not finished yet. Also, In the case of Haneen Hossam, even though her appeal for a release was accepted by the court under the pretext of “protecting her academic future”, the prosecution decided to refer her to criminal court and continued detaining her over accusations of “infringing principles of the Egyptian society”.
After the ban on visits since coronavirus outbreak in March 2020, administrations of a number of prisons refused to allow academic books inside the prison as well as other necessities such as soap and sanitizers. Such constraints jeopardize the detainees’ ability to study or conduct their research as in many situations they would require extra text books and internet access which is nearly impossible in Egyptian prisons. Also, the prison administration didn’t announce its communication protocol with universities and schools in order to receive information regarding the research topics and also