Biannual report of ‘Detention Watch’ in Egypt: 4,820 violations in six months, Enforced disappearance topped the list of violations, and Sharqia governorate faces documented persecutionShimaa elbanna
65 cases of extrajudicial killings and 153 documented violations against 91 detainees
Committee for Justice
Geneva 3 September 2019
“Another six months of systematic violations and insistence on abolishing human rights by Egyptian authorities” .. This is the conclusion of the situation across the first half of 2019, in the official and unofficial Egyptian places of detention, according to monitoring and documentation undertaken by Committee for Justice(CFJ) in its bi-annual report of the “Detention Watch Project” of Egypt
Violations do not provide stability for a country and there must be a human rights dialogue that ends such crimes.
“The report monitored 4,820 violation incidents inside and outside places of detention during the first half of 2019; reflecting a major crisis that would not lead to real stability in the country, ” said Ahmed Mefreh, CEO of Committee for Justice.
Mefreh added that the violations are proceeding in a systematic manner, as reflected by the data documented by CFJ’s periodic reports on human rights violations in places of detention since 2017, and to date. Such systematic violations impose serious danger to the lives of detainees, which requires the joining of all efforts towards changing the status quo.
The report presents 1,918 monitored violation incidents committed outside places of detention against 1,555 victims, where enforced disappearance headed the violations with 923 cases, followed by arbitrary detention with 638 cases, while equivocal killing was the third highest violation reported with a total death toll of 320 Egyptians.
Despite the difficulty of obtaining information related to the situation in Sinai, due to the media blackout and the arrest of activists and intimidation by the state for natives who publish information related to the situation there, CFJ has been able to monitor cases of equivocal killings in the Peninsula. Such killings have reached a staggering number, with around 245 deaths in the first half of 2019, as per statements presented by the official military spokesman.
Cairo governorate recorded 362 monitored cases of enforced disappearance, while Sharqia governorate came second with 206 monitored cases, where the later recorded the highest number of arbitrary detention cases during the first half of 2019 with 259 cases; reflecting a serious and documented persecution that this governorate faces, in connection with the political and human rights crisis in the country.
The report also presented 2,902 monitored violation incidents in places of detention, where poor detention conditions led the violations in the first half of 2019 with a total of 1,288 monitored cases. Arbitrary detention came second with 722 cases, followed by hunger strike and medical negligence with a total of 438 cases.
Poor detention conditions included prohibiting or restricting visits, overcrowding and poor ventilation, restricting toilet access, prohibiting the entrance of personal items, stripping of personal belongings, as well as the housing of political detainees in criminals cells.
Tanta prison topped the list of prisons with regards to medical negligence in the first quarter of the year affecting 46 detainees out of 115 detainees suffering from medical negligence, followed by Wadi Al-Natroun prisons complex with 13 detainees, while in the second quarter Tora prisons complex (Scorpion1 and 2, Mazraa (farm), investigation and reception prisons) topped list of prisons in medical negligence with 23 detainees out of 92, followed by Borg Al-Arab prisons complex with 15 detainees.
In the first quarter of 2019, Borg al-Arab prisons complex topped the list of hunger strikes with 40 out of 83 detainees on hunger strike, followed by Tanta general prison with 36 detainees, while in the second quarter Tora prisons complex topped the list with 142 detainees out of 148 going on hunger strike.
CFJ also monitored 65 extrajudicial killings across the first half of 2019, 15 of which were executions following unfair trials, thus falling into the category of extrajudicial killings, besides 42 deaths due to medical negligence in various places of detention, 3 deaths from torture and 5 deaths by suicide.
In the first half of 2019, CFJ monitored 27 incidents of torture, which varied between individual and mass incidents, against 159 people. CFJ noticed an alarming increase in arbitrary detention with 69 documented incidents, in addition to 20 cases of refusal to implement a judicial ruling, besides 7 cases of violations impinging on proper interrogation procedures or fair trial, and 10 cases of renewed arrests.
Of the total cases monitored during the first half of 2019, CFJ team was able to document 153 violations committed against 91 detainees. Those included 72 cases of violations against 48 detainees in the first quarter of 2019, and 81 cases of violations against 43 detainees in the second quarter of the year.
On her part, Shymaa Aboelkhir, the advocacy officer of CFJ, holds the Egyptian authorities fully responsible for their obligations towards the political prisoners and detainees, as mandated by the Egyptian law, constitution, as well as the international human rights treaties which Egypt has signed. Aboelkhir also stressed on the importance of engaging in a human rights dialogue that can build coherent and consistent strategies and regulations towards ending such violations.