The National Council for Human Rights (NCHR) issued an initial report on the council’s delegation visit to Abu Za’abal prison Monday to inspect prisoner’s conditions, noting prisoners have been subjected to beating, threatening and inhuman treatment.
The delegation’s visit lasted one and half hour and the delegation members met four prisoners over complaints filed by them to Prosecutor General. The prisoners had stated they had been subjected to torture, humiliation, assault and beating, according to NCHR’s statement.
Their testimonies revealed violations of prison regulations regarding visits and time to exercise.
The prison’s administration had taken disciplinary measures against the four prisoners through putting them in ‘disciplinary rooms’ for periods that ranged between 7 to 16 days amid “inhuman conditions that included not being able to use bathrooms, lack of food and the poorness of food offered, undrinkable water and absence of ventilation,” according to the report.
The delegation noticed traces of beating on the prisoners and a state of panic and severe fear as they said they were indirectly threatened by the prison’s administration not to reveal to the NCHR what they had endured.
The NCHR members also stated that most of the prisoners they met were students. They had been detained for long periods, which threatens their academic future.
Delegation member Salah Sallam told Daily News Egypt that they were only allowed to see those four, even though they had a list of twelve names.
“We asked about two prisoners, whom according to our data are prisoners of Abu Za’abal, but we were told they were absent,” he said.
“So we asked about their location and prison authorities pretended their computers were out of order, what would disable them from extracting information about their location,” he added.
However Sallam said: “But we asked their colleagues about them and we were told that the two had been deported before our visit.”
The council’s member, though, did not claim prisoners had been subject to “torture”, but referred to “violations”, which included beating.
Minister of Interior’s Assistant for Human Rights Affairs Abu Bakr Abdel Karim denied in a TV phone call to CBCextra channel that prisoners had been subject to torture or even beating. He stated the alleged torture victim Ahmed Gamal Ziada did not have traces of beating, but instead a birthmark on his back.
Sallam commented that he is qualified enough to know the difference between birthmarks and beating marks.He said,when asked about the ministry’s denial of torture claims, that it is “natural they deny”.
Ziada is detained at Abu Zaba’al prison, and has been sending out messages via his visitors, giving details about police brutality against prisoners.
The visit NCHR visit came in response to a series of complaints regarding the increase in prisoners’ poor treatment in Liman II of Abu Za’abal, claiming systematic torture practices.
Abdel Ghaffar Shokr, NCHR deputy chairman, told Daily News Egypt: “We have received several complaints of torture allegations inside the Abu Za’abal prison, all from political prisoners.”
The NCHR recommended quick investigations in the incidents and revising laws that regulate pre-trial detention, in addition to the necessity of implementing new prison regulations.
Additional reporting by Mahmoud Mostafa