In a joint campaign led by two local coalitions for human rights, Freedom for the Brave and Kazeboon, dozens of political activists took to social media platforms to criticise the practice of solitary confinement in Egyptian prisons.
The campaign, which aims at empower those who are kept in solitary confinement, calls on previewing relevant documented cases. It also calls on exposing the harsh conditions prison conditions, that reportedly do not meet regulations, and their affect on detainees and their families.
The campaign is expected to last for one month.
According to the law regulating prisons, solitary confinement is a penalty that maximum should last for only 30 days. It also should not be applied to any prisoner without prior investigations or summoning of witnesses.
There are currently several detainees being kept unlawfully in solitary confinement, according to the campaign. This includes political activist Ahmed Douma, Amr Ali of 6 April Youth Movement, journalist Youssef Shaban, and human rights lawyer Malek Adly, and Ultras White Knights member Sayed Moshagheb.
Asmaa Aly, the wife of Malek Adly, said following her visit to Adly on Saturday that “38 days have passed since he was put inside a solitary confinement cell. Despite all the complaints, nothing has changed.”
Aly’s visit to her husband was considered an exception due to the holy month of Ramadan, when each prisoner is granted two visits during the month.
According to Aly, the cell has only one hole in the ceiling and is not exposed to the sun. It also does not have a bed. “Adly cannot sleep anymore on the floor as this has caused him back and knees injuries.”
Prisoners in solitary confinement spend nearly 22 hours every day in complete solitude, and even during the remaining exercising hours they spend them away from other prisoners, said Douma’s wife, Nourhan Hefzy.
“Further, they are prevented from visits and prayers, which imposes a larger burden on them,” she added.
Long-term solitary confinement is widely considered a method of psychological torture. In the United States, there are thousands who are kept in solitary confinement.
“Segregation, isolation, separation, cellular, lockdown, Supermax, the hole, Secure Housing Unit… whatever the name, solitary confinement should be banned by states as a punishment or extortion technique,” United Nations Special Rapporteur on torture Juan E. Méndez told the General Assembly in 2011.