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HRW: Egypt must provide immediate medical care to Aisha Al-Shater

December 20, 2019 at 12:55 pm

Human Rights Watch yesterday called on the Egyptian authorities to immediately provide urgent medical assistance to female detainee Aisha Al-Shater, allow her family to visit her, and release her if there is no evidence of her committing a criminal offense.

Joe Stork, deputy Middle East and North Africa director at Human Rights Watch, said: “As if arbitrary arrest was not enough, Aisha Al-Shater has had to endure inhumane prison conditions and her family has been living in anguish knowing almost nothing about her health.”

“Now, faced with a medical crisis, prison authorities should ensure she receives sufficient care by independent doctors,” he added.

HRW said: “The Egyptian authorities should immediately transfer Al-Shater to a fully-equipped medical facility, allow independent doctors to examine her, and make available to her family and lawyers detailed information about her medical condition.”

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The rights watchdog said prison hospitals in Egypt often “lack necessary medical equipment, medicines, and specialized doctors, and doctors who work in prisons or prison hospitals are subject to chain of command by Interior Ministry officers and often cannot make crucial clinical decisions independently.”

A relative told Human Rights Watch that Al-Shater, daughter of Deputy Chairman of the now-banned Muslim Brotherhood Khairat Al-Shater, has spent at least nine months in solitary confinement, adding that the prison authorities prevented her lawyer and family from visiting her, and no one has been able to see her since her arrest despite the family obtaining permission to visit her from a judge.

HRW cited what it said was “a one-page medical report” from early November saying that Al-Shater was suspected of having pancytopenia potentially due to aplastic anaemia from myelodysplastic syndrome, a serious bone marrow disorder. The report said that the onset of Al-Shater’s illness was “acute” and “progressing”.