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The Egyptian Organization for Human Rights
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Tuberculosis .. The slow death in the prisons of El Wadi El Gadeed and Damanhou




The EOHR's 11th report on the living and health conditions in the Egyptian Prisons

23/1/2001

The report deals with the deteriorating health and living conditions in the prisons of El Wadi El Gedeed and Damanhour" and which depends on real testimonies of the prisoners and detainees and their families as well as the investigation of the EOHR Field Work team .

The report is divided into three sections which are :

Section one: The legislative framework, which includes the laws and the articles of the Egyptian Constitution concerning the treatment of prisoners as well as the Standards Minimum Rules For The Treatment of Prisoners. This report exposes the gap between the article of the international covenants and the Egyptian legislation whose article do not provide the suitable living and health conditions for the prisoners.

Section two: The conditions within El Wadi Gadeed and Damnhour prison which reveals that the construction of these two prisons violate the international covenants which lead to the deteriorating of prisoners' the health condition .The deteriorating health condition in the Egyptian Prisons is also a result of the overcrowding, lack of hygiene , insufficient and inadequate food , the deteriorating condition of prison hospitals and the shortage of doctors and medicine as well as the pollution of water, the lack of recreation in the sun and the ban of having food from the family. In this regard EOHR monitored that 180 prisoner have Tuberculosis in the Prisons of El Wadi El Gadeed and Damanhour in addition to the death of 5 prisoners in El Wadi El Gadeed and the death of 5 prisoners in Damanhour prisons as a result of the lack of medical care.

Section three: The recommendations which EOHR forwarded to the designated authorities to take the necessary measures in the past five years to stop the deterioration of living conditions, the ill-treatment of prisoners and poor medical care in the prisons. These recommendations are still appropriate since none of them have been adopted.

Hence the EOHR appeals again to the authorities to implement its previous recommendations and urges them to implement the following:

1. To ratify the Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. This would give the UN Human Rights Committee the right to look into complaints made by individuals whose political and civil rights have been violated.

2. To approve the two declarations indicated in articles 21 and 22 of the Convention Against Torture. These declarations would permit the UN Committee Against Torture to deal with complaints presented by states or individuals concerning Egypt's violation of its obligations as provided for in the convention.

3. To take the necessary measures to guarantee the amelioration of living conditions in Egyptian prisons; to ensure that prisoners and detainees are not subjected to torture and ill-treatment; and to guarantee the right of prisoners to education, adequate nutrition, recreation, visits and contacts with the outside world.

4. To set up a judicial committee to conduct an investigation into the reasons behind the deterioration of health conditions in Egyptian prisons and into the gross violations arising from this deterioration; and to made public the methods and results of these investigations.

5. To form an independent national committee to conduct a thorough and impartial investigation into the deterioration of Egyptian prisons in general. This committee should have access to all the information and data it may need, and be free to interview any person it considers necessary. Its role should not be confined to legal matters, but should also include the political, social and legislative aspects of the problem. The committee should then present a comprehensive proposal for the reform of Egyptian prisons.

6. To take measures to stop the current lack of medical care in prisons. These must include a prompt release of all prisoners whose health condition so requires; facilitating necessary medical examinations and operations to sick inmates; providing medicine, medical equipment, and the human and technical resources necessary for prison hospitals to function adequately; and taking the medical steps necessary to stop the spread of diseases in prisons.

7. To assign the supervision of prisons to the Ministry of Justice instead of the Ministry of the Interior, and to maintain the supervisory role of the Prosecutor General on prisons.

8. To introduce the system of criminal execution judges who would follow up the sentences and supervise their implementation. These judges will also be responsible for examining complaints and grievances made by prisoners against the sanctions they receive inside prisons. They should be assisted by a specialized prosecution body with sufficient number of members to guarantee judicial supervision and monitoring of prisons.

9. To abolish the power of the President of the Republic to create special prisons and to decide, solely, which groups would be placed in, the way they will be treated, and the conditions for their release. This power must be transferred to the legislature. Also, article 1 bis of Law no. 396 of 1956, which permits the Minister of the Interior the right to designate special places for detention, must be repealed.

10. To amend Law no. 396 of 1956 on prisons in conformance with the provisions of the Constitution and international human rights standards, and of modern penal policies, to guarantee that all persons deprived of their freedom are treated in a manner that respects the human dignity inherent in the person.

11. To repeal Law no. 121 of 1956 amending article 63 of the Code of Criminal Procedure. This law gives the members of the Public Prosecution only the right to bring lawsuits against public servants, among them police members. The old system, which allowed victims to bring direct suits, must be restored.

12. To stiffen the punishment on prison chiefs in case they break the prohibition on contacts between the authorities and prisoners or those in preventive detention. It is also important to state that prison chiefs will be considered party to the crime of torture, whether this takes place inside the prison or in any other place to which the prisoner or detainee was taken without legal grounds.

13. To activate the role of the Public Prosecution in inspecting prisons and to extend this role to cover all places of confinement, particularly State Security Investigations offices, security directorates in Cairo and other governorates, and police stations, as well as all other places designated as places of detention by the Minister of the Interior. The power of inspection should be extended to all members of the Public Prosecution and should not be confined to chief prosecutors and heads of courts, given their insufficient number.

14. To apply the provisions stipulated in the Code of Criminal Procedure regarding the ban on contacts between officials, except for the prison administration, and prisoners and those in preventive detention.

15. To conduct immediate investigations into complaints and reports made by organizations and individuals on violations of the rights of those held in prisons or in any other places of detention. 16. To allow the EOHR to investigate prison conditions.

17. To issue firm instructions to the officers of the Prison Department to abide by the law and facilitate the inspection of places of detention to the Public Prosecution. Also, to take deterrent administrative measures against any one who violates the dignity of a person or impedes the work of the Public Prosecution.

18. To stop the use of the Prison Manual used by the Prison Department to regulate prisons, as this manual was not issued by a legally competent body.

19. To include human rights education among the subjects of study in police academies and all other relevant institutions.

20. To reinforce the role of prison doctors in confronting violations of prisoners' rights, and to clearly instruct them to follow the code of ethics of the medical profession when dealing with prisoners. Also, to empower doctors to treat sick prisoners without the intervention of the prison administration.


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This document is published online by Derechos Human Rights. Derechos works against violations to human rights and humanitarian law all over the world.