Egyptian Front for Human Rights has released a report:” Systematic Violations & Overlooked Complaints: 300 Documented testimonies regarding the conditions of Egyptian prisons before the prosecution“.
The prisoners suffer increasing violations in Egypt today, especially in light of the persisting crisis of the Coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic, since March 2020, isolated prisoners have been facing the outbreak of Coronavirus inside prisons, insomuch as the sham precautionary measures announced by the Ministry of Interior. In addition to the deteriorating health care system in prisons, and the Ministry of Interior’s insistence on the blackout policy regarding the current status of detainees, which was exacerbated by the interruption of their communication with the outside world in a scene that is closer to enforced disappearance, which led to adding new violations to the list of what they have been already suffering in Egyptian prisons.
The Egyptian authorities are keen on displaying their official version of places of detention, which denotes that the inmates enjoy all their legal rights, whether with regard to health care, visitation, exercise and non-degrading treatment, and even enabling them to read and develop themselves, which is contrary to the truth, according to independent human rights reports.
Despite the difficulties that Egyptian human rights organizations encounter, including even official ones such as the National Council for Human Rights, in obtaining approvals from the Ministry of Interior to visit places of detention and to ensure that detainees enjoy their rights which are guaranteed by law, the testimonies received from the detainees themselves, their families, or their lawyers reveal a conflicting narration to what the authorities are trying to promote with the aim of improving their image in front of international and UN agencies, as the violations inside places of detention vary at the hands employees and security personnel, breaching local laws and international covenants.
It is worth noting that during the universal periodic review at the Human Rights Council in November 2019, Egypt received 23 recommendations related to places of detention, 26 recommendations related to torture and cruel treatment, and in the same session, Egypt received 7 recommendations related to human rights violations by state officials.
This report attempts to paint a clear picture of the conditions of places of detention in Egypt, by shedding light on them in at least seven prisons, in which 1057 defendants were detained in seven cases relating to incidents of political violence. This report provides an analysis and presentation of documents that include the testimonies of 300 detainees, as the Egyptian Front was able to access their verbal testimonies which were documented in the reports of investigations and detention renewals, which cited their complaints to the prosecution of the violations they suffered inside places of detention.
This report is divided into three main sections: The first sheds light on the data and details of the seven cases of the detainees whose testimonies are documented, including the progress and final status of the case, as well as the facts of the case, the number of defendants and the charges against them. The second section focuses on the role of the prosecution and its interaction with the conditions of detainees and the response to their demands of improving prison conditions and holding accountable those involved in violations, given its role in judicial supervision of places of detention. The third section reviews the most prominent types of violations that people are subjected to in prisons, such as medical negligence, inhumane living conditions such as overcrowding and malnutrition, as well as cruel or degrading treatment, and intransigence in allowing them the right to visit, exercise, and continue studying.
This report arrives at several conclusions, the most prominent of which is that prisoners in Egypt are subjected to widespread and systematic violations by employees of the Ministry of Interior and with the knowledge of the Public Prosecution Office, as the testimonies – documented in official papers – reveal that detainees have been subjected to a large number of violations at the hands of the prison administration, most notably the lack of health care and poor living conditions, cruel and degrading treatment, abuse of basic rights such as the right to visitations and exercise, in addition to other violations. This is in the absence of judicial supervision to ensure that places of detention comply with international and legal standards for the rights of inmates.