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Maltreatment in Egyptian Prisons
Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) said , “A woman was thrown in Hell because she  withheld a cat until it died because she did neither feed the cat food nor l
Thursday, July 12,2007 00:00
by Dr. Ibrahim Al-Zaafarani

Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) said , “A woman was thrown in Hell because she  withheld a cat until it died because she did neither feed the cat food nor left it to eat from the grass of the land”. Every society is asked to maintain balance between the person’s rights and the right of society as a whole so that no body can violate the right of the other. That is, concerns should not focus in seizing the right of given society without consideration for individual’s rights  especially what is related to penalties, and the most important of which is the penalty of depriving from freedom which is unfortunately plagued our contemporary world, where physical penalties are curbed in order to pave ways for the penalties that seizes freedom. The later penalty is flexible yet focusing in it only  has negative effects.

If a man was deprived was deprived of his/her freedom through judicial rules, then penalty should be restricted on this and not to extend to deprive him/her of physical, health, social, mental, and economic rights.

Health status inside Egyptian prisons are as follows:

In preventive side:

1-      Full medical checkup on prisoners does not take place starting from the day of detention and there are no medical records for prisoners

2-     A prisoner should receive cloths for prison some of these cloths are kept for long time while some are used by other prisoners

3-     Prisoners are crowded in cells with large numbers that do not correspond with the space of the cell where there are no ventilations and this results in serious diseases

4-     Prisoners are kept for long time inside the cells without going out, especially in the early days of their imprisonment. They are deprived of ant walks, sports or seeing the sun and this affects seriously their physical and psychological status.

5-     Water cycles are insufficient for the large number crowded in every cell, besides there are some private prisons in Cairo governorates where there are no water cycles and this forces prisoners to relieve nature in vessels that have putrefying smell besides polluting the place and transmitting of infections.

6-     The frequent cutting of potable water and there are no safe vessels for keeping water, this leads to the spreading of infections. Sometimes, they resort to keeping water in unhealthy tanks where prisoners rush into such tanks to drink .

7-     The quality of food and its time: food is distributed on all meals where prisoners have only one meal a day and the components are bad because food contractors bring the worst kinds of food from markets and some prisoners who suffer diseases are ordered to cook the food without taking into consideration  the healthy and professional aspects, because these prisoners lack health awareness.

8-     The absence of refrigerators or any devices for preserving food, this leads to the spoiling of food especially some kinds in summer and the result is collective stomachaches for many prisoners.

9-     The difficulty of sending food to the prisoners through their families unless except through special means.

10-Prisoners sleep on floors or on unqualified beds with bad plates that sometimes it is hard to sleep on. The paucity in the number of blankets, the unhealthy ways of keeping them where used blankets are transferred among prisoners at the same time there are no means for cleaning them.

Sometimes, blankets are spread under sun in order to get rid of the insects but for few times only while other prisoners use blankets sent by their families and succeeded in entering them through special means.

11-  Suitable time is insufficient to  inhale breeze and to see the sun, practice sports or at least walking because cells are closed for long times. This causes deterioration in health.

Medical treatments

-          Most Egyptian prisons have small clinics and few amounts of medication but they are unequipped with necessary tools. Low-experienced doctors are brought to make checkup on prisoners for long times  while their number is insufficient with the great number of prisoners. Doctors in many times are afraid from officers and especially the officers of state’s security when they write the medical reports for prisoners. Any doctors attempts to recommend treating any prisoner outside the prison is intimidated.

-          Specialists who visit clinics are not well qualified  and they can not find medical supports in order to use it in checkups or diagnosing. Sometimes they do not come, and other times they only make checkups on a few number of prisoners and give limited amounts of medications.

-          Buying medication from outside the prison is a very hard process and a complicated one.

-          In emergency cases while cells are locked many prisoners may suffer heart attacks or bronchitis and when prisoners call guards, they become disturbed because they are watching t.v at nights! Most of the times guards do not respond to calls unless prisoners strike hard the doors and yell fiercely. And if they responded they get a nurse or an unqualified doctor.

-          In most of the time, the first –aid man is unqualified and sometimes feels hesitant in treating people especially under the pressures practiced by officers and policemen, so he must be precautious.

-          At the end, inn order to call the responsible officer to call the specialized doctor there are many obstacles besides if the prisoner is to be transferred to another hospital this needs at least six hours at in many times the are transferred to the   hospitals of other prisons that are unqualified as well.

-          The cases that are in dire need to be transferred to Al-Qasr Al-Eini is in need for days to take the permission for that by the heads of state’s security. The patient has to wait a long time for that and it would be once in a blue moon if a an ambulance came  to transfer the prisoner.

-          The supreme level of treatment for a prisoner is to be transferred  with chains to the hospital of Al-Qasr Al-Eini.

-          In many times, the sick prisoner might be transferred back to prison because there is crowd in the hospital or that the officers accompanying him lost their  patience from waiting, only good-fortuned prisoners who can miss this bad treatment through their private means like telling his/her family about the date of  checkup at the given hospital  in order that the families go and beg the doctors to make checkup on the prisoner. If the prisoner is to be kept in the hospital for treatment, he would suffer from "such new prison" where people sleep on floors, and there are no suitable conditions for staying there to the extent that some prisoners  prefer going to the prison without treatment rather than being detained in such a prison.

-          The Compulsory Health Care in Prison

The prison has rights related to his/her health one is preventive wile the other is the rights of treatment.

So the rights of preventive health are:

-          To undergo full medical checkup since the first day of his /her detainment. To keep a medical record about the prisoner and to note down all what he/she suffers from and the requirements for health care.

-          To prepare suitable places for detainment and this should include ventilations, breakups, times for sports and to be exposed to sun rays, beside suitable water cycles  accordant with medical descriptions, the availability of potable water that is suitable for health.

-           The availability of clinics to detect the early stages of any disease and to treat it

-          The availability of sufficient medications to all prisoners

-          The availability of rapid administrative and technical methods that helps in first aid which requires rapid interference unless serious threats may occur.

-          The presence of a big hospital inside every complex of prisons equipped with intensive care units and emergency rooms beside there technical supports should be available and should meet the requirements of good private hospitals in order to treat serious cases like those who are in need for surgeries. Any prison shall not be established without a suitable hospital for treatment (also along with the presence of fire extinguisher)

-          Facilitating the process of purchasing medication from outside the prison on private expenses if the patient needs that and at any time and to set specific mechanism for that.

-          To co-operate with a number of specialized hospitals and near ones in order to look after patients in prisons, also to treat  the cases that are in need for treatment in hospitals and to facilitate the private measures.

 

-          Not to specify Al-Qasr Al-Eini  for treating prisoners because it is crowded, and to establish a new cell for detaining patient prisoners who are to undergo surgeries beside opening doors for donations to establish this cell.

 

-          To forge an agreement between the administration of prisons, and the general syndicates for medicine and dentistry to look after the health care in prisons beside giving recommendations for the administration.

 

-          Civil societies and medical companies should give donations for patient prisoners who can not afford the expenses of health care.

 

-          Members of syndicates and committees of human rights should show due care for looking after health care in prisons.

 

-          The general secretary of syndicate of doctors in Alexandrian and an MB leading figure.   

 

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