Since Abdel Fattah al-Sisi’s coming to power in Egypt, prison authorities have persistently used the denial of medical attention and care as a weapon against dissidents, says the Arab Organisation for Human Rights in the UK (AOHR UK).
AOHR UK hereby announces the deaths of three prisoners over the last 24 hours: Jamaal Rashidi, who was held in al-Mansur prison, and Mahmud al-Ajmi, 65 years old, who died whilst detained in Talkha police station, approximately six weeks after his arrest. Both al-Mansur and al-Ajmi died on Wednesday 3 February. Hours after, Mustapha Abu al-Hassan, aged 57, died as a result of COVID-19, whilst held in Mit Ghamr police station.
AOHR UK underlines that the deceased detainees were denied adequate medical attention, that their requests for medical release were ignored, and that they continued to be detained in inhuman circumstances until their deaths. The authorities, aware of their prisoners’ critical conditions, did not attempt to improve the circumstances of their detention in any way before their deaths.
AOHR UK restates that the Egyptian authorities have not addressed the COVID-19 emergency in the manner required, nor have they followed the globally-advised preventative measures needed to avoid an increase of the number of cases within detention facilities. Detainees already suffer from overcrowding, poor nutrition, and poor healthcare provision. Authorities do not test suspected COVID-19 carriers, and the infected are rarely isolated.
AOHR UK emphasizes the authorities’ failure to provide minimum standards of healthcare provision to prisoners, which constitutes a serious breach of international laws and treaties. The Egyptian authorities are therefore doubly culpable, having already committed similarly serious violations by imprisoning political opponents, without a trial, for exercising their legitimate rights.
AOHR UK therefore calls on the international community, all human-rights defenders, and the relevant international organisations to express their clear opposition to the policies and practices of the Egyptian regime in relation to the prisoners of conscience and the general prison population, and to put pressure on the regime to immediately release those arbitrarily-detained prisoners, especially women, the aged, and the sick.