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Status of Al-Aqrab prison remains in dispute - Daily News Egypt

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Status of Al-Aqrab prison remains in dispute

Minister of Interior and NCHR statements are contradictory; NCHR delegation member banned from entering Al-Aqrab prison

The Ministry of Interior released a statement Sunday on the National Council for Human Rights’ (NCHR) visit to Al-Aqrab prison, which contradicts council statements and the detainee’s families’ complaints.

The statement noted that after the delegation’s inspection of patient medical records and discussions with the prisoners, it was found that the prisoners are in good and stable medical and living conditions. The statement also noted that the Al-Aqrab prison departments are offering the prisoners all the sufficient care and services.

NCHR member George Ishaq told Daily News Egypt that the council’s report contradicts the ministry’s report. NCHR observed, in its pending report, that visitation permissions were rarely granted for the detainees’ families, medical care offered to the detainees has not improved, and violations are still present inside the prison.

In December 2015, families issued complaints of the mistreatment and torture of inmates in Al-Aqrab Prison. Dozens of detainee families gathered in front of the Press Syndicate to protest the treatment of the prisoners and demanded that the ministry allow winter clothing and visits. The ministry further denied all the complaints from the detainees’ families.

During the NCHR delegation’s visit to Al-Aqrab prison on Tuesday, all members were allowed to enter the prison except human rights lawyer and council memeber Ragia Omran, because prison officials said her name was not included on the visitors’ list.

The visit was made following several complaints the council received from the families about their son’s abject conditions in Al-Aqrab prison. The delegation aimed to check the health and living condition of the prisoners, inspect the prisoner’s cells, and meet with the prison officials to discuss the situation.

Omran said she received a call from Ishaq Monday to join the delegation visit and she attempted to confirm her participation by calling the council and visiting coordinator Nabil Salaby but received a reply from neither of the two.

Omran then left a message on Shalaby’s mobile to confirm her participation with the delegation and yet her name was not sent to the administration. She told Daily News Egypt that the administration did not allow her to enter after she was kept waiting in front of the prison for an hour and a half.

“I have been receiving complaints from the prisoners’ families for the past month; therefore, I really wanted to enter to know what is really happening inside the prison and what the prisoners are encountering,” Omran said.

She said the decision to disallow her entrance to the prison proves the administration’s fear of an thorough inspection of the prison conditions and administrative process.

“I believe that the situation was intended, since the administration knows well that I am a human rights lawyer who does not fear the state or the Interior Ministry. They knew if they had allowed me to enter, I would have really publicised all their crimes,” she said.

Her colleagues in the delegation initially refused to enter the prison when Omran was barred but eventually entered and completed the inspection.

Omran provided Ishaq with all of the complaints she received to discuss them during the delegation meeting with the prison officials. She will submit a complaint against the council in their upcoming meeting on 13 January for not allowing her access to the prison despite her well-known connection with the families. She said last month that a delegation from the council visited the prison without informing her and the delegation report was widely criticised for its inaccuracy and incredibility.

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