Arab Organisation for Human Rights in the UK (AOHR UK) reacts with horror at reports of the deadly fire at a juvenile detention centre in the Marj district of Cairo, Egypt.
Reports suggest that 6 children were killed in the blaze, and that more than two-dozen children were injured. AOHR UK utterly condemns the Egyptian state’s mismanagement of the detention centre in question, and of the broader prison system.
Under President Al-Sisi, in power since 2014, the prison system in Egypt is a monstrosity of injustice and neglect. AOHR UK has criticized the recent attempted suicide of a minor, “disappeared” into the National Security Force’s headquarters in Arish in 2017; the 18-month sentence handed to human rights campaigner Sanaa Seif for “spreading false news” in March this year; and the continuing imprisonment – without trial or even charge – of journalist Bahaa al-Din Ibrahim Na‘mat Allah. These cases, both of the terrible neglect of detained children and the persecution of activists and journalists, are systemic features of Sisi’s regime.
And, this is not to mention the Egyptian prison and judicial authorities’ wanton management of the Covid-19 pandmenic, and its terrible affect on detainees nationwide. Indeed, a recent joint declaration from over 30 states at the 46th Session of the United Nations (UN) Human Rights Council condemned the broad human rights situation in Egypt.
Conditions were lethally unsafe in the Marj detention centre – the fact that children were not properly protected from fire is itself surely a crime and must be fully investigated in a manner that guarantees at least a modicum of justice for the victims, survivors, and their families. Just as importantly, urgent steps must be taken to ensure that other such facilities are not similarly lethal.
AOHR UK offers our condolences to the victims, survivors, and their families.