Under the title “I’m Human”, some of Al-Aqrab Prison detainees began a sit-in Monday inside the prison to protest the violations committed by the prison administration against the prisoners and their families, according to an official statement published on a Facebook page for families of Al-Aqrab’s detainees.
The statement indicated that Al-Aqrab prison is not complying with Egyptian prison laws. Detainees and their families called for the application of prison laws in Egypt such as the current standards of food, water, and visits do not abide by those stated in the laws, the statement read.
“This prison is under very strict guardianship; its administration is committing several violations concerning prisoners’ rights, this needs to be improved promptly,” member of the National Human Rights Council (NCHR) Nasr Amin told Daily News Egypt.
The majority of Al–Aqrab prisoners are allegedly members of the Muslim Brotherhood although the Ministry of Interior has not provided clear statistics about the total prison population in Al-Aqrab, Amin said.
Spokesman of the Strong Egypt Party Ahmed Emam demanded the immediate closure of Al-Aqrab prison and the investigation of prison officials. Al-Aqrab prison is considered the most dangerous and inhumane prison in Egypt; detainees and their families are denied their right to visitation, Emam said in a statement on the party’s Facebook page.
According to testimonies from detainees’ families, when they are allowed to visit, there are glass barriers between families and detainees, which is illegal according to prison law. Brotherhood deputy supreme guide Khairat El-Shater’s daughter recently filed a lawsuit against authorities to remove the glass barrier; the court decided to postpone the hearing to April.
Egyptian Coordination for rights and freedoms published statements Monday on its official Facebook page documenting information about violations against detainees inside Al-Aqrab prison. The statements focused on how some detainees’ appearance were affected due to malnutrition by posting before and after photos of each detainee the group had documented.
Last week, dozens of family members gathered in front of the Press Syndicate to protest the treatment of the prisoners, demanding that the ministry allow winter clothing and visits. The relatives at the protest, which was organised by the Association of Relatives of the Al-Aqrab Prison Detainees, held up photos of the detainees and related stories of alleged violations.
In a related incident, 16 local NGOs including the state-backed National Centre for Human Rights, demanded the establishment of a “independent investigation team to examine the conditions of the prisoners in Al-Aqrab.
Al-Aqrab Prison was built in 1993 under the reign of notorious former minister of interior Habib Al-Adly and hosted many political prisoners and high-profile inmates accused of being involved in terrorist activities. It continued to be used to host defendants accused of violence and terrorism.