Egyptian Prisoners: From political to criminal detainees
CAIRO, June 20, 2014 — The prison situation in Egypt is intolerable, both in terms of the prison conditions and the increase in the number of political prisoners held by the government
Egyptian prisons lack the appropriate sanitary, livable and humane conditions that are necessary for basic survival. The situation has been exacerbated by the large number of people arrested during the political unrest between June 30, 2013 to the present. The number of prisoners has doubled or even tripled.
The Egyptian Initiative for personal Rights (ERIPR) published an extensive report on the outrageous conditions of the prisons in Egypt.
The study by ERIPR researcher Heba Wanis examines health conditions in 16 prisons and police stations in Egypt. Wanis interviewed current and former inmates and prison doctors, lawyers and experts of Human Rights.
The report focuses on poor living conditions, health care and discrimination in access to care, treatment of critical cases.
Meanwhile, human rights groups are concerned with the number of political arrests since 2013. Amnesty International published a disturbing report regarding torture of students and journalists in Egyptian prisons.
Students and journalists who criticize the government are targets. Two students from American University in Cairo, Abdallah Boghdady and Abdel Rahman Ghandour, were arrested on December 20th, 2013 for protesting what they alleged was military rule in Egypt. They also called for the release of political detainees. Both were sentenced to 5 years in prison after a belated trial.
The government has particularly targeted journalists from Al-Jazeera. Three Al-Jazeera journalists, including an Australian national, are charged with airing false news or joining the Muslim Brotherhood movement, which has been designated a terrorist organization by the government.
The government claims there are “no political detainees.” Officials deny allegations by human rights groups of torture, prolonged detentions and secret prisons. They say those currently imprisoned were sentenced by civilian courts, not by the government.
Despite these statements, however, Egypt has a growing fear of returning to oppressive policies under the dictatorship of former President Hosni Mubarak. The revolution seems very far away.