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Egypt uses collective punishment against prison inmates, says HRW

December 18, 2020 at 12:34 pm

Watch towers at Tora prison in the Egyptian capital Cairo 15 September 2020 [KHALED DESOUKI/AFP/Getty Images]

The Egyptian authorities are using “collective punishment” against prisoners in Cairo’s notorious Scorpion Prison, Anadolu has reported. The allegation was made by Human Rights Watch yesterday.

A report from the rights watchdog said that the Egyptian security services have introduced changes to Scorpion Prison since mid-November which almost completely deprive the inmates of ventilation, electricity and hot water. This is in addition to earlier measures banning family visits since March 2018, and the denial of physical exercise since last year.

“Because of the absence of sufficient natural light to work or read, the lack of humane sleeping and sanitation arrangements, and climate consideration, as well as inadequate floor space, artificial lighting and proper ventilation,” the report pointed out, “the Scorpion Prison inherently violates the basic rights of prisoners as codified in the United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners (Mandela Rules).” The 700 to 800 inmates of the prison are thus being subjected to grave violations amounting to collective punishment.

“The Egyptian authorities are apparently imposing collective punishment on hundreds of inmates in Scorpion Prison, after cutting them off the world for almost three years,” explained Joe Stork, deputy Middle East and North Africa director at HRW. “Conditions in this prison are utterly incompatible with the rights of prisoners.”

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Stork called on the Egyptian authorities to address the conditions in the prison and ensure that the inmates are not deprived of their basic rights. At the time of writing, the authorities had not commented on the report’s findings.

Scorpion Prison is a maximum security prison where a majority of Muslim Brotherhood prisoners and other opposition figures are detained.

Sisi's Prisons - Cartoon [Sabaaneh/MiddleEastMonitor]

Egypt Sisi’s Prisons – Cartoon [Sabaaneh/MiddleEastMonitor]