Egypt Fails to Improve Conditions in Overcrowded Prisons: HRW

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Al-Akhbar Management

Published Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Human Rights Watch accused Egyptian authorities on Wednesday of failing to take serious steps to improve conditions in overcrowded prisons which are causing deaths.

The New York-based group said it had documented nine deaths in custody since mid-2013, when the army's ouster of President Mohammed Mursi was followed by a crackdown on his Islamist supporters.

Human Rights Watch said authorities "are taking no serious steps" to deal with the issue.

Following the ouster, Egyptian authorities banned the Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt’s oldest Islamist movement, and launched a heavy crackdown on its members, leaving more than 1,400 dead and 15,000 jailed, including hundreds sentenced to death for allegedly taking part in deadly riots in August 2013.

Mursi himself is standing several trials on charges ranging from espionage to militancy, and could be sentenced to death if convicted.

HRW said some detainees appeared to have died after torture or physical abuse, while "many appear to have died because they were held in severely overcrowded cells or did not receive adequate medical care for serious ailments."

Citing interviews with relatives and lawyers, it called the conditions many detainees faced "life-threatening" and detailed the deaths of five men from beating and lack of medical care.

The government denied the accusations.

Interior Ministry spokesman Hany Abdel Latif said "such talk has no basis in truth," adding "this is very strange talk and hasn't been said anywhere else before."

In November, Egypt was brought in front of the UN’s top human rights body for a litany of rights abuses, including its crackdown, mass arrests and unfair trials targeting mainly Mursi supporters, journalists, and activists, which it described as “unprecedented in recent history.”

Besides Islamists, many of the leading secular activists behind the 2011 uprising which ousted former President Hosni Mubarak have also found themselves on the wrong side of the new political leadership, getting locked up for taking part in peaceful demonstrations following a ban on unlicensed protests.

According to rights group Amnesty International, security forces often use provisions under the Protest Law to justify the excessive use of force to disperse protests, and arrest demonstrators.

The Protest law (107 of 2013) “allows the security forces to use firearms against peaceful protestors.”

President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi has made law and order and economic stability his top priorities rather than democratic freedoms — the key demand during the anti-Mubarak uprising.

Human rights groups say that Sisi has been even more autocratic than Mubarak. Since he rose to power, several Mubarak-era officials have made a comeback, as has the once reviled police.

(AFP, Al-Akhbar)

Comments

OK. So do you all want terrorism or don't you? Pretty mixed message from the West. The people in jail have committed terrorism, or were just too curious as lookey-loos to be smart enough to stay away from protests. HRW really needs to wake up, because they are bolstering terrorism. We (Middle East) don't want it -- we don't need it.

Ask France. They don't want it either. After 911 the US didn't want it either. Remember the Patriot Act?

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