Report around Activities of the Civil Society Organizations’ Inspection Visit to Al Qanater Jail.

Report around Activities of the Civil Society Organizations’ Inspection Visit to Al Qanater Jail.

In the framework of Maat Center for Juridical and Constitutional Studies’ adoption of a project aimed at rejoining prisoners, and detainees and their families with the society- and at spreading culture of peace- Maat center for Juridical and Constitutional Studies, represented by Mr. Ayman Ouqeel, and some organizations of civil society (One World  Association for Development and Civil Society Care, represented by Mr. Maged Soroor , Humanity Development Association  in Al Moansoura, represented by Mr. Mohamed Mohee, and the Egyptian Association for Family Development, represented by Mrs. Hala abd al Qader), these organizations made an inspection visit to Al Qanater Jail. This visit came after Ministry of Interior’s permission on the request delivered by Maat center to allow organizations of human rights, which concerned about conditions of jails and prisoners, rehabilitate them and rejoining them in the society, to participate in the collective fast breaking the ministry prepared for jailed mothers.

General Sameer Salam, assistant of minister of interior and administrator of jails’ institution, said that the punishing policywhich jails’ administration apply in dealing with prisoners, in one of its sides aimed at rehabilitate prisoners inside the jail to give them the chance to found job opportunities after their release. This was the cause of issuing the public report number1978 to establish an industry fund affiliated to the supervision of Finance Ministry, through this fund a lot of projects are done inside the jail, these projects serve the state’s aims of rehabilitation. In this framework the program included visiting the exhibition of furniture made by prisoners, and its workshops, the wood factory established inside the jail, Yoosef Abaas Secondary Industrial School for Prisoners which supervised by Ministry of Education and give authorized certificates, the library, and clothes factory, the animal production farm, in addition to visiting the exhibition of handmade works of the women prisoners.
The visit ended by the collective fast breaking, which included the meeting of the women prisoners with their husbands and sons, and included showing amusing program.

Jail’s walls… are the first and main stage in the process of rehabilitate and rejoin the prisoners and their families in the society especially as the punishment policy applied by punishment institutions reflected on the total social and moral values the prisoner transferred with outside jail’s walls. The ability to rejoined in the stage after the punishment as well as the society’s acceptance of the continuous existing of this class actively in the society regarded as one of the signals of the punishment policy’s success in achieving its rehabilitation role, especially as this policy corresponds with what the international charters and the Egyptian constitution dedicated to protect prisoner’s rights.

The supervision role of civil society organizations represents an important focusing point to assure protecting rights and public freedoms, the matter which form a push to the integration of these policies through displaying its positive sides to establish it as good example which could be developed, in addition to displaying its negative sides which has to be avoided because of its danger especially if it directly effects human rights.

Launching from this point, in addition to that the center adopts a project especially aimed at rejoining prisoners and detainees and their families with the society, a general assessment for prisoners’ conditions in Al Qanater jail was done according what was seen in this visit.

Firstly, the official institution’s acceptance of the idea of the civil society organizations’ supervision, specially on the punishment’s institutions by opining jails’ walls to the social supervision- formed one of the positive points in this endeavor, we can focus on this positive point and display it especially as it supports transparency in dealing on one side- it also regarded as one of the active and effective solutions of juridical crisis that Egyptian society may suffers some of its shapes, for example torture in arresting places.

In addition, this step presents an invitation to participate in the process of rebuilding and rehabilitation the prisoners and their families need. So if this endeavor starts exceptionally, the center hopes that it may be controlled regularly, and may permitted in other jails.

Also the jail’s administration permits the prisoners to be visited every fifteen days During the month of Ramadan.
 which supports the social contact with outer world, and forms a good spiritual push for the prisoner in completing his punishment’s period.
But these visits have to be generalized so that every prisoner may gain its benefits.

The industry fund, the state established in the jail, may actually cooperates in building productive projects has an effective role in absorbing and directing the energy inside prisoners, it also regarded as a profit( but a little one ) by which the prisoners could help their families. But these projects face a real challenge in its administration, and shopping in a technical way, as the center watched its humble level in comparison with the energy the jails absorbed in its prisoners. Also the center watched the lazy mood of the workers which may be because of the law profits especially as the individual income did not exceed mostly two hundred pounds. So the center calls upon the officers for more care and attention for this fund which could be developed through the help of specialized experiences in administrating these projects.

One of the important negatives which had to be solved represented in the role played by Afterwards Care Administration as it can not offer real job opportunities for the released so he become ready to return to crime again.
This comes after he learned a craft and a career inside the jail but he can not benefit from outside it.

In correspondence to what most of the prisoners, in Al Qanater Jail, said: there is an accumulation in the jail’s wards, as the rooms’ area is between 25 to 30 meters in which there are between 15 to 18 prisoners i.e. the area of every prisoner did not exceed two meters. Some prisoners pointed out to the bad airing of jail’s wards, really the center couldn’t visit wards and rooms as the visiting program did not include them.

The prisoners’ right to educate and know is one of the most important rights insured by international charters because it is one of the main and important cores in the process of rehabilitating the prisoner. In this respect the center watched the low level of the jail’s library as the available books are few, and there are no varieties, and no juridical books, which make the prisoner away form realizing his rights provided by law. Also there is no defined circulation cultural policy through which it may be possible to raise cultural and awareness of prisoners by holding various seminars, organizing meetings with cultural characters, or by giving lectures in different subjects.

One of the most important positives the center watched in this jail is the spreading of goods money (cigarettes) as a replacement for cash, as the jail’s officials said the administration prohibit money exchange and that the prisoners’ dealing is by using cards to prevent the spreading of robbery. This contributed intentionally in the spread of smoking which forms a danger on prisoners’ health. The reality is that the results of this policy are danger so we see that it is important to review the issue of allowing money exchange.

Al Qanater Jail, is one of the jails famous for its good conditions in comparison with the other Egyptian jails. Inviting juridical organizations to visit it is a good endeavor if it will be repeated in the future regularly and if it is not just for one jail but all arresting places… police stations…security body’s headquarters… detention camps…jails, etc.

Finally, reforming jails, rehabilitating prisoners, and rejoining them in the society and making them good people, must be a message that all officers, responsible for executing the punishment, believed in it so that some individual behaviors and manners may not ruin what the punishment institutions achieved.

To give social supervision the chance to reach these places is an effective assurance to protect rights and freedoms, also showing the realities and establishing transparency in dealing contribute in finding effective solutions for many crisis which results reflected on society as a hole and the official institutions has not to endure its responsibilities alone, as the responsibility is shared.
The endeavor of visiting Al Qanater Jail if it seems to be a humble step, and its assessment is not an assessment of all Egyptian jails, but it is a real strategy towards more transparency which we wish to repeat it.

Participating Organizations:
1-Maat center for Juridical and Constitutional Studies.
2- One World Association for Development and Civil Social Care.
3-Humanity Development Association in Al Mansoura.
4-The Egyptian Institution for Family Care.