The National Council for Human Rights (NCHR) requested on Tuesday that the Ministry of Interior visit several prisons and police stations all over Egypt in order to implement a plan with the ministry to improve conditions in prisons and police station after the inspection.
The council’s decision came in response to the to numerous complaints received from prisoner’s families about substandard conditions and neglect inside prisons, and the widespread cases of torture in police stations, as reported by the media.
These inspections aim to improve the conditions of prisons and police stations in accordance with the Egyptian constitutional stipulations regarding prisoners’ rights. Therefore, the plan is to visit a list of prisons and police stations to check the prisoners’ standards of living and their health, to review all complaints, and to attempt to regulate overcrowding in prisons, which is major source of disease and infection.
It was also reported that the NHCR will attempt to address the issue of enforced disappearances through their visits to prisons and police stations.
Abdel Ghaffar Shaker, Vice President of the NHCR, said the council seeks coordination and cooperation from the Ministry of Interior so as to plan successfully, noting that that the council is prioritising visiting prisons in Minya, Qina and Port Said, due to their poor conditions.
He explained that the council plans to visit all prisons and police station across Egypt; having scheduled two police stations per week and two prisons per month. The council will choose the prisons and police station based on the complaints they receive.
The council heads will hold a meeting with members in order to schedule the inspections as agreed by their members.
Police brutality has escalated over the past few months, with reports of cases of citizens tortured to death in police custody increasing. The issue become a major source of public outrage and frustration in Egypt over the past week. Several families have also issued complaints in recent months about the mistreatment and torture of inmates in prisons.
Last December, dozens of detainee’s families gathered in front of the Press Syndicate to protest the mistreatment of the prisoners, and demanded that the ministry allow winter clothing and visitation rights in prisons. The ministry later refuted all complaints from detainees’ families, and issued statements maintaining that any violations were “individual acts” and not systematic.
Last month, the NCHR visited Al-Aqrab prison, which is the subject of the most complaints from prisoners’ families. Despite this, the NCHR report on the visit aligned with ministerial claims that the prison’s conditions have not deteriorated significantly and that the situation is stable.
During the visit in January, all but one member were allowed to enter the prison. Human rights lawyer and council member Ragia Omran was denied entry because prison officials said her name was not on the visitors’ list.
Omran previously told Daily News Egypt that this decision to deny her entry to the prison proves the administration’s fear of a thorough inspection of prison conditions and administrative process, as she considers herself to be a human rights lawyer who does not fear the state or the Ministry of the Interior.