The death of the first detainee suspected of being infected with the Corona virus in Hahya Police station
Committee for Justice calls upon the Egyptian Interior and Health ministries to reveal the truth about infections, and suspected infections, with COVID-19 inside a number of police stations in some Egyptian governorates.
According to the preliminary information that CFJ has documented, detainee ‘Ibrahim Mohamed Al-Daleel Okasha’ died inside a hospital in Sharqiyya governorate after being transferred from his detention place (Hahya police station). Ibrahim’s health had deteriorated as a result of high temperature, severe respiratory distress, and severe cough. These symptoms occurred a few days before his death. The detention authorities have failed to act quickly to rescue him. This supports our suspicion that Ibrahim has died with covid-19, since the authorities continue to uphold necessary medical information about the true reason for his death. Meanwhile, suspected cases among other detainees in the same police station raise concerns over the authorities’ failure to take necessary precaution measures to protect the detainees’ lives and conduct COVID-19 tests on them. This comes along with high overcrowding rates, and poor health care and detention conditions in the police station.
Also, we documented another death incident in Balbis police station (Sharqiyya governorate), also suspected to have been caused by Covid-19, amid news reaching CFJ that at least four detainees in this police station suffer from COVID-19 associated symptoms- severe pain, respiratory distress, severe ailment, and high temperature.
In Ismailiyya Police Station II, we documented that ‘A. Q.M.’- 27 years- has caught COVID-19 infection and was transferred to the quarantine hospital after testing positive. According to statements reaching CFJ, detention authorities did not conduct blood analyses for other detainees in the same police station to ensure they have not contracted the virus and thus not subjected to a fatal threat.
In Wady Al-Natroun, Qanater, and Tora Prisons and Nasr City Police station Complex we documented allegations by families of detainees, some of whom are detained for criminal and others for politically-motivated charges, that symptoms of high temperature, shortness of breath, and cough – all closely associated with COVID-19– appear among detainees, and that the detention authorities do not take any real protective measures to curb the infection.
Ahmed Mefreh, CEO of Committee for Justice said: “according to our documented information, we are now facing the first two confirmed deaths suspected of having been infected by Corona virus, bringing total documented deaths in detention places in Egypt to 1,007 since 30 June 2013. We continue to follow up with the situation inside different detention places in light of the new indications of the spread of COVID-19 associated symptoms among many detainees therein. We call upon the Egyptian authorities to be completely transparent in explaining the reasons for these deaths and to reveal the truth. It is not the time for manoeuvring and covering up truths; it is time for transparency and solidarity to save the detainees’ lives in more than 300 detention places in Egypt.”
Thereof, we call upon the Egyptian authorities to uphold the principle of transparency in managing the COVID-19 pandemic crisis inside the places of detention, publish their plan for dealing with it, provide immediately all necessary medical treatment for suspected inmates/detainees, isolate them from other inmates/detainees, and ensure that such isolation does not undermine their human rights. Also, we call upon the authorities to conduct PCR tests of all inmates and detainees in detention places where suspected cases have occurred, undertake immediate measures to relieve overcrowding and limit detainees’ transfers to/from detention places, issue early and conditional release orders of vulnerable inmates/detainees, particularly elder persons and chronic patients, release all remand detainees and resort to ‘precautionary measures’ towards them.
Meanwhile, Committee for Justice calls for providing and ensuring detainees and inmates’ continual access to hygiene tools (water, soap, sanitizers), tightening hygiene measures, particularly by civilian and security staff members in prisons and police stations, and seeking available alternatives instead of banning family visits, such as enabling detainees and inmates’ communication with their families through phone, ensuring their right to have exercise hours, and enabling civil society and detainees’ families to help by provision of hygiene and health care tools.
Committee for Justice expresses deep concern about the results of the expanded detention campaigns Since the emergency measures were tightened to counter Covid 19 reaching over 30,000 arrests according to official records, in conjunction with tightened emergency measures to face of COVID-19. We fear that this increases the likelihood of contracting the virus by imprisoned and detained individuals inside detention places, since no protective or precautionary measures are taken to screen new detainees before they are placed in detention places and mix with other detainees and security personnel.