Egypt Built 19 New Prisons Despite the Country’s Economic Crisis

The Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI) stated in its new in-depth report that Egypt has approved the construction of 19 new prisons since January 2011 amid an ongoing crackdown on freedoms and human rights, according to Aswat Masriya.

“The number of prisons has risen in Egypt from 43 to 62 since 2011, when then Hosni Mubarak was ousted after a popular uprising against his rule,” said the report.

“During Adly Mansour’s reign and Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, 16 prisons were built out of 19 new prisons, two prisons under the rule of Mohamed Morsi and one during the transitional period led by the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces(SCAF),” according to the report.

Prisons across Egypt are bursting at the seams due to “random arrests and unjust trials, in addition to the unfair laws passed after July 3, 2013,” reads the report.,

Since al-Sisi’s military coup in 2013, a massive crackdown on political opposition and human rights organizations has taken place. Hundreds have been arrested, tortured, and subjected to enforced disappearance after the military coup.

The report also considered the government’s need for new prisons to the “extension of pre-trial detention periods, which should not exceed two years, according to the law.”

There are no official statistics on the interior ministry’s website regarding the number of inmates in Egyptian prisons, but head of the Prison Authority Mostafa Baz said in a televised interview in May 2016 that the number of prisoners stands at 80,000.

However, ANHRI stated that Egyptian prisoners totaled over 106,000 prisoners, 60,000 of whom are political prisoners, despite security officials repeatedly asserting that Egyptian prisons were free of political prisoners and detainees, according to a source at the Prison Authority, who preferred to remain anonymous.

“The post-July 3, 2013 period, as well as the period of sectarian violence during the early 1990s, are the only periods during which the number of political detainees exceeded that of criminal detainees in Egypt,” said the report.

The report urged the Egyptian regime to recognize the problems that arise from the absence of law and accountability policy, saying that “stability may come through repression, or through justice and the rule of law, and the latter is more lasting.”

In fact, the Egyptian authorities face many criticisms by the human rights activists and organizations for their policy of building more prisons especially with the country’s economic crisis.  “The government builds new prisons, detains larger numbers of activists, at a time when the country suffers an economic crisis and is reluctant to build hospitals, schools and public libraries,” said the ANHRI report.

At an Earlier time, this year, the Arab Organization for Human Rights released a report stating that the cost of the Gamasa prison construction was 750 million Egyptian pounds ($95.8 million). However, the Ministry of Interior does not publish the expenses of prisons construction which probably cost billions of Egyptian pounds.