The Ministry of Interior has agreed for an inspection by the National Council for Human Rights (NCHR) to two prisons later this month, NCHR Deputy Chairman Abdel Ghaffar Shokr said Monday.
Shokr told Daily News Egypt that “the ministry agreed to visits to Damanhour and Abu Za’bal Prisons on 23 and 24 August”.
As the only organisation with access to Egypt’s prisons, the semi-official NCHR has already conducted several visits to evaluate the conditions of prisons such as Abu Za’abal, Tora, Qanater, Al-Aqrab, Tanta, Al-Marg and Wadi El-Natrun since 2013.
On the NCHR’s most recent visit to Abu Za’bal Prison, the council received several complaints of torture inside the prison, all from political prisoners.
The NCHR members are required to obtain approval from the Ministry of Interior prior to a visit, which Shokr has complained about. He previously told Daily News Egypt: “Every time we are issued permission before our visit to any prison, we realise that they have already settled everything.”
The Ministry of Interior has acknowledged over-crowded conditions in prisons and police stations, and opened a new prison in May to reduce overcrowding inside security directorates and police stations.
Interior Minister Magdy Abdel Ghaffar said during his visit to the new prison: “There should be more development of the prison’s facilities to become an alternative for the police stations’ detention rooms.”
Shokr added that the NCHR asked to visit Al-Aqrab prison, which in previous months has witnessed a number of deaths of jailed Islamist leaders whilst in detention. The latest of these cases was the death of Al-Jamaa Al-Islamiya leader Essam Derbala earlier this month.