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Skin diseases spreading in Egypt's Scorpion Prison as a result of deliberate neglect, say ENHR

Egyptian police officer entering the Tora prison in the Egyptian capital Cairo, on February 11, 2020 [KHALED DESOUKI/AFP via Getty Images]
Egyptian police officer entering the Tora prison in the Egyptian capital Cairo, on 11 February 2020 [KHALED DESOUKI/AFP/Getty Images]

The health of more than 1,000 political prisoners is at risk in Egypt's Scorpion Prison as scabies and other skin diseases are spreading.

According to a statement made by the Egyptian Network for Human Rights (ENHR), over recent weeks there has been a significant increase in skin diseases among detainees due to the fact that the time they spend outside in the sun and the fresh air is strictly limited.

The cells themselves have a serious lack of ventilation and only small windows.

A contributing factor to the spread of scabies, psoriasis, ringworm, and fungi is that medicine and other healthcare products used to treat these conditions are prevented from entering.

Even soap is strictly limited with prison authorities handing out one bar every few months which is shared among the detainees. There is a very limited supply of soap in the prison shop and when it is available the prices are high making it unaffordable for some of the detainees.

The excessive humidity inside the cells particularly during the summer has exacerbated the problem.

READ: Reporters Without Borders calls on Egypt to release Al Jazeera journalists

ENHR has said that the rapid spread of these skin conditions has raised alarm bells for an imminent health disaster if the matter is not addressed swiftly and said that political prisoners urgently need appropriate health care, medicine, and hygiene products.

The rights group accuses prison authorities of a continued and systematic attempt to kill detainees.

Prison visits have been banned for some of the detainees for the fourth year in a row. A number of detainees have been on hunger strike since the beginning of August in an attempt to secure visiting rights and the right to exercise.

The persistent neglect of prisoners is a form of torture and a crime says the ENHR.

The statement comes not long after the same rights group held the Tora Prison authorities responsible for the death of political prisoner Tjuddin Abdel Qader-Allam who had a heart attack after being denied medical help.

There have been several suicide attempts inside Egyptian prisons over recent months as detainees despair at the conditions they are held in, in particular being prevented from seeing their families and loved ones.

In response to the report, an Egyptian cleric said publicly that Egyptian prisons are like resorts with shockingly high standards where prisoners are treated like guests and have access to various rehabilitation programmes.

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