• September 6, 2016
  • 7 minutes read

Human Rights Report: More Political Prisoners Than Criminal in Egypt Coup Jails

Human Rights Report: More Political Prisoners Than Criminal in Egypt Coup Jails
An extensive human rights report revealed that the number of political prisoners in Egyptian jails, with 16 newly added by Sisi and the junta since the July 2013 military coup, has exceeded the number of criminal prisoners for the first time in the country, indicating the priority the Sisi regime has placed on political security incarceration over fighting crime, which explains the absurd spread of crime across Egypt.

Statistics and figures quoted by "The Arabic Network for Human Rights Information" (ANHRI) report, which monitored the expansion and escalation of campaigns of arrests and detentions, and the construction of new Egyptian prisons, showed a sharp rise in the number of prisoners in the country’s jails (approximately 62 prisons) – excluding illegal detention centers – to 109,000 inmates, of whom 60,000 are political prisoners.

The report pointed that "the massive expansion in the construction of prisons was not necessarily due to population growth, but to increasing numbers of political cases and the escalation of suppression of opponents" and that increasing the number of prisons is a message that there is plenty of room behind bars for critics and opponents of the current regime.

The report also pointed that despite the economic crisis in Egypt, the state has spared no effort in building (19) new prisons to accommodate these huge numbers, with some of them becoming the largest in Egypt, such as Gamasa and Minya prisons, which can accommodate about 15,000 prisoners and detainees each.

ANHRI’s new report about prisons and places of detention in Egypt was released on Monday under the title "Room for everyone.. Egypt jails before and after the January Revolution". It features statistics published for the first time, such as the number of Egyptian prisons before the January (2011) Revolution, and the decisions to build 19 new ones in Egypt after the military coup, as well as the total number of prisoners in Egypt, which ANHRI estimated at about 106,000 inmates, including 60,000 political prisoners.

The report also lists the most important prisons in Egypt before the January Revolution, including locations and names of central prisons scattered in Egypt’s provinces, as well as illegal prisons and places of detention used by the security forces, and a list of the most prominent legal violations that take place daily in those jails.

Moreover, ANHRI’s report lists names of the most well-known camps which witness statements prove were illegally used, as well as old and new women’s prisons, which amounted to about 13 jails, a significant rise from just 9 jails before the coup.

The report affirms that the number of prisons before the January 2011 Revolution was 43 main prisons, in addition to 122 central prisons and 320 police stations used as places of detention by a decree from the coup regime’s Interior Minister.

It adds that 19 new prisons were built in Egypt by special decrees, with some already opened, including 16 new prisons in the period between mid-2013 and 2016.

The report further pointed that the 19 prisons built after the January 2011 Revolution included one prison during the initial period under the rule of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, and two prisons built during the rule of President Mohamed Morsi, 16 prisons under Adly Mansour and Sisi.

Documenting the numbers of new prisons in Egypt, ANHRI relied on the Official Gazette and the decisions and decrees to build such new prisons, due to the absence of information withheld by the Interior Ministry, and also due to the inaccuracy of relevant news published by the junta-controlled press.

The list of illegal places of detention mentioned in the report, where no Interior Minister decision was issued and which should not hold any citizens in detention, includes 9 Central Security camps, five of them in Cairo, as well as the National Security apparatus’ various headquarters and compounds, as well as the notorious Azuli military prison in Ismailia.

The report also mentions 12 different violations used against prisoners and detainees in coup jails, placing responsibility on the public prosecutor for two of them and on the Interior Ministry for nine violations, and on both together for one violation. According to the report, violations begin "the moment an arrest or detention is made".

In fact, ANHRI reports that those violations include "interrogation in the absence of a lawyer", "prolonged remand in violation of the law", "detention in illegal and inappropriate places", "holding people in remand in illegal jails", "denying prisoners the right to a phone-call", "solitary confinement without legal warrant or for periods longer than legally acceptable", "depriving inmates of cell furnishings or discriminating among prisoners", "denial of health care", "failing to punish employees who imprison a person in an illegal place", "failing to allow legal duration of visits" and "detention of children at the same place with adults".