Egypt: Almost 35 prisoners died from Coronavirus, amid authorities neglect

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Geneva – Geneva Council for Rights and Liberties (GCRL) warns of the risks posed by

the spread of  Coronavirus pandemic in 28 detention facilities in Egypt, as the death toll mounts almost daily amid suspected widespread neglect by the authorities.

At least 35 death cases were documented by GCRL, since last March, among prisoners most of them detained for their political views and a number of prison officials and guards.

Geneva Council believes that the Egyptian authorities are responsible to ensure precautionary measures and better health conditions in all their prisons and detention centers in light of the record-high number of COVID 19 infection.

It also sheds light on the appalling conditions inside the Egyptian detention facilities, whether State security prisons or Central Security Forces camps especially Coronavirus cases are on the rise. The council learned that the situation inside Egyptian prisons is worsening amid an alarming number of positive coronavirus tests, and authorities are doing little to curb the spread of the virus.

For instance, Egypt’s notorious Tora Prison, located south of Cairo, detected two cases of infection two months ago in one out of 4 blocks, but due to neglect, the virus spread in all blocks, and deaths cases were recorded among prisoners and prison staff.
GCRL has received a message from detainees in Tora prison, revealing that Coronavirus is spreading rapidly in the prison and the number of people with symptoms is more than 300 detainees, but prison authorities are not taking appropriate measures. Prisoners said that the infected cases were not isolated or provided with appropriate medical care; and none of the patients were transferred to hospitals and intensive care rooms.

Geneva Council calls on the Egyptian authorities to take adequate preventive measures and to adhere to basic hygiene standards in prisons in a bid to stem the spread of coronavirus pandemic.

The United Nations Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture called on authorities to reduce prison populations by implementing schemes of early, provisional, or temporary release of low-risk offenders.

Geneva Council for Rights and Liberties urges the international human rights community to put pressure on the Egyptian authorities to avoid devastating consequences for detainees and prison staff and to stop the deliberate neglect of prisoners’ legal and health rights which may lead to their extrajudicial death.

GCRL  also warns that prisoners whose immune system is already weak which make them vulnerable to the infection by COVID 19, stressing the responsibility of the Egyptian authorities to act immediately to rescue them and prisoners of conscience and political opponents.

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