Referring to the rising rates of infection and deaths due to Coronavirus, spreading through Egyptian detention facilities, Arab Organisation for Human Rights in the UK (AOHR UK) has drawn attention to the lives of Egyptian detainees which are being put at serious risk.
Already a significant number of detainees and prison officials have been infected, but as AOHR UK has pointed out, security services have been negligent with regard to enforcing measures to prevent the spread of the virus amongst staff and detainees and have not provided adequate care and treatment for those who have been suffering symptoms. As a result, at least nine detainees have died.
In Tora Prison where a number of security officers and prison guards thought to be infected with the virus have transmitted it to detainees, Nasser Abdel Maqsoud, 56, suspected as suffering from Coronavirus, died on Tuesday morning, 9th June 2020, following a sudden deterioration in his health.
Nasser Abdel Maqsoud was the second victim in less than 24 hours, following another detainee, Hassan Zeyada who died inside Al-Mahala Al-Kobra Police station on Monday 8th June 2020, after suffering a very high temperature and breathing difficulty.
During May, at least seven detainees were suspected of dying with the Coronavirus. Four of these detainees died in different detention facilities in Al-Sharqia Governorate: Ragab Al-Naggar on 7th May 2020, Mohamed Khater Ghamri on 25th May 2020, inside Belbeis Police Station, Ibrahim Okasha on 14th May 2020, inside Hehia Police Station, and El-Sayed Moawad Rizk on 21st May 21 2020, in Zagazig Public Prison.
On 20th May 2020, Tamer Omara died inside Tora Reception Prison, Mohamed Abdel Latif Khalifa died on 20th May 2020, in the Bandar Al-Fayyum Police Station, and Reda Masoud died on 2nd June 2020, in Shebin El-Koum prison.
AOHR UK can confirm the spread of the epidemic in Tora Reception Prison and Tora Investigation Prison where the test results of a number of detainees proved positive. Infection was widespread inside Al-Sharqiya Governorate, the Husseineya Police Station, Derb Negm Police Station and Belbeis Police Station in which two detainees died during May 2020.
Detention facilities in Alexandria Governorate have witnessed the pandemic as well, including Dekheila Police station and Al-Gharbiniyat Prison in Borg Al-Arab, where it was rumoured the Chief of Detectives had succombed to the virus.
The number of Coronavirus cases is increasing significantly in Egypt, where 38,284 cases have been recorded and 1,342 died to date, according to official figures.
AOHR UK stresses that Egyptian authorities did not take any measures to reduce the risk of infection and protect prisoners, and that on the contrary, it refused to allow sufficient space for prisoners to practice social distancing, nor did it provide adequate personal hygiene facilities, use of disinfectant nor masks, which all amounts to extreme medical negligence.
AOHR UK calls on the UN Secretary General and the international community to intervene immediately to pressure the Egyptian authorities to take the necessary measures to avoid a wider spread of the virus, which will seriously endanger the lives of the detainees.