Egyptian prisons lack of medical care leads to serious risk of death for numerous detainees
Egyptian prisons  lack of medical care leads to serious risk of death for numerous detainees
Sunday, January 24,2010 19:32

Egyptian prisons are notorious for their bad conditions of detention, the widespread practice of torture and the arbitrary nature of the detention of many of their inmates. In addition to this, Alkarama has been informing the United Nations human rights mechanisms of a further worrying problem in many Egyptian prisons, whereby detainees suffering from medical conditions at the time of their arrest, are given no medical attention, often putting them at serious risk of death.

Most of these individuals are detained arbitrarily, for political reasons and without any legal proceedings.

The following 5 individuals, arbitrarily detained in Damanhour Prison illustrate this trend:

1. Mohamed Ali Mohamed Saada 55, was arrested from his home on 22 October 2009 by the SSI. On 20 December 2009, the Criminal Court of Cairo ordered the release of Mr Saada, but the SSI and the Ministry of Interior have refused to release him.

2. Kamal Eddine Mohamed Attia Aliwa  51, was arrested on 22 October 2009 by the SSI.

3. Adel Younes Mohamed Rashed 52, is a merchant  who was arrested on 17 October 2009, and though he was ordered for release by the General Prosecutor on 18 October 2009, he was kept in Balkas police station until an arrest warrant was issued on 22 October 2009. He is now detained in Damanhour Public prison.

4. Ali Saad Ahemd Siyam 49, is an employee of the used and drinking water company of Mansoura. He was arrested on 12 November 2009 at his home.

5. Ibrahim Jabr Ibrahim Mohamed 45, is a merchant who was arrested on 14 October 2009 from his home.

They were all arrested by agents of the State Security Intelligence (SSI) dressed in civilian clothes. Upon their arrest they were not shown any judicial warrant nor were they informed of the reasons for their arrest. All were later accused of membership of the Muslim Brotherhood, the main opposition movement in Egypt, a group banned since 1954.

All 5 individuals wrote in November and December 2009 to the Interior Minister and to the prison authorities to request that their medical conditions be taken into account and that they receive appropriate medical attention. They have received no response and their detention condition remains the same.

The arrest of these 5 members of the Muslim Brotherhood comes in the wake of hundreds of arrests since July 2009 of individuals accused of membership of the Muslim Brotherhood. The arrests are seen by many observers as an attempt by the government to disturb the support network for any potential candidates for the 2010 Parliamentary elections. Alkarama has been following these waves of politically motivated arrests and informed the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention about them on 27 October 2009 . The 5 above named individuals are therefore currently detained for political reasons, and are not accused of any particular crime or illegal activity.

Two similar cases of political detainees at risk of death cases were also submitted to the appropriate UN human rights mechanisms in December 2009: Magdi Hamdi Saqr and Mohamed Abdel Moawad . This demonstrates a trend in Egyptian prisons, but especially in Damanhour prison of failing to provide appropriate medical treatment and of unsanitary conditions of detention for Political prisoners, putting their lives at risk.

Alkarama is concerned that they are in danger of death due to their medical conditions which are being severely aggravated by the actions and inactions of the State Security Services (SSI) and the prison administration, who are under the authority of the Ministry of Interior. This is contrary to Egypt's obligations under international human rights law. In particular, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR)'s art. 6.1 states that "every human being has the inherent right to life. This right shall be protected by law. No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his life".

Alkarama calls on the Egyptian authorities to immediately release Mr Saada, Mr Aliwa, Mr Rashed, Mr Siyam and Mr Mohamed, as well as all other detainees suffering from such medical conditions in Egyptian prisons, and in any case, provide them with the required necessary specialist medical treatment by transferring them to appropriate institutions or hospitals and giving them access to appropriate medical treatment.