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Detainees of Egypt’s notorious Scorpion prison: ‘We’re living, but we are in tombs’

File photo of the entrance to the notorious Tora prison (Scorpion Prison) in Egypt [File photo]
File photo of the entrance to the notorious Tora prison (Scorpion Prison) in Egypt [File photo]

Human Rights Watch have released a detailed report on the abuses that take place in Egypt’s notorious Scorpion prison (Tora prison), where inmates are kept in cells without beds, visits by families and lawyers are restricted and authorities interfere with medical treatment.

The report, which is based on interviews with relatives of detainees, lawyers, a former prisoner and medical files of sick and deceased prisoners reveals that between May and October 2015 at least six detainees died after being denied medical care, medicine, or requests to release them on medical grounds.

Interior Ministry authorities have refused to provide high-ranking members of the Muslim Brotherhood and Al-Gama Al-Islamiyya with live-saving medication in abuse that is politically motivated and a way to silence the opposition.

Scorpion prison is notorious for being the detention centre which houses “enemies of the state” – the 1,000 estimated detainees are made up of Brotherhood leaders, alleged members of the Islamic State group and journalists and doctors who oppose Sisi.

“It was designed so that those who go in don’t come out again unless dead”, said a former Scorpion warden in 2012. “It was designed for political prisoners.”

Relatives report that conditions in Scorpion deteriorated drastically in March 2015 with Abdul Fattah Al-Sisi’s appointment of Magdy Abd Ghaffar as interior minister. Under Ghaffar there has been a spike in the number of enforced disappearances.

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