The Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR) released a report on Saturday on the deteriorating conditions inside the high-security Al-Aqrab Prison, highlighting that it is currently the worst prison in Egypt.
The report made a number of recommendations to improve the prison conditions and put an end to human rights violations.
The report indexed the types of violations that have occurred at Al-Aqrab, including solitary confinement, medical negligence, restrictions on families’ visits, and a shortage of food, warm clothes, and medicines
EIPR called on the prison administration to allow families to visit their relatives twice a month for 60 minutes, in accordance the visiting protocols delineated by law, and to offer decent waiting areas. It also called for the prison to improve the living conditions in prison cells to maintain prisoners’ health.
EIPR called on the general prosecution to send delegations to supervise and inspect the prisons on a monthly basis, to take steps against violations happening inside the prison, whether by police officers or prisoners.
Moreover, it also suggested forming a civil society committee that will be allowed to visit and inspect the prison every month to ensure that the prison condition do not violate human rights regulations.
EIPR demanded an increase of the doctors and nurses operating in prisons, noting that one doctor is inadequate to provide health services to the many ill prisoners.
EIPR concluded by calling on the general prosecution to end the use of pre-trail detention as punishment that has allowed for the imprisonment of people for over two years without charges or a court session.
The interior ministry has repeatedly denied all previous violations and human rights reports that have reported violations in prisons or police stations. In several press conferences, Minister of Interior Magdy Abdel Ghaffar denied the existence of systematic enforced disappearance and violations committed by police officers, claiming that they are “individual cases” and stressing that ministry holds violating officers accountable.
Several protests and complaints were made by the families of prisoners held in Al-Aqrab, calling on the interior ministry to address prisoners’ conditions. In February, prisoners began hunger strikes in protest of the situation inside the prison, while demonstrations were held in front the Press Syndicate in solidarity with the prisoners.
On Friday, interior ministry spokesperson Abo Bakr Abdel Kareem denied poor conditions and overcrowding in prisons in response to a compliant made by the lawyer representing Mahienour El-Massry. El-Massry filed a report that claimed that prisons are operating over their capacity, and water cuts are prevalent in Damanhour prison.
He also said the ministry allow the National Council for Human Rights to visit prisons and inspect them, and that it also previously allowed approximately 30 journalists to inspect prisons and report on them. However, NCHR reports usually align with the ministry’s account of prisons, and have been criticised by a number of activists, social media users, and right groups.