Egyptian authorities have subjected inmates on death row at Badr prison, which the regime has held up as a model of humane treatment of prisoners, to increasing levels of torture and abuse in recent weeks, the human rights defender-run Till the Last Prisoner campaign stated yesterday.
Over the past two weeks, the human rights defender-run campaign reported, prison authorities have physically tortured death row inmates, placed them in solitary detention, ended their visitation rights, cut their food portions, and denied them required medicine.
Till the Last Prisoner’s statement comes hot on the heels of a Reuters report that reached similar conclusions about the treatment of Badr’s political prisoners more generally.
“Based on our assessment, it’s intentional to subject the prisoners to inhumane conditions solely because of their identity and political background,” said Hussein Baoumi of Amnesty International.
Former presidential candidate Abdel Moneim Aboul-Fotouh is one of the prominent political prisoners to have been moved from the Tora prison complex to Badr.
“It was supposed to be at least on the same level but since the transfer, no, it’s much harder, the situation is worse and there’s no justification,” his son said. Families also complain that it has grown more difficult to visit their detained relatives, receive news, or deliver medicine or food.
Egyptian authorities have touted the state-of-the-art medical facilities at Badr and other newly opened model prisons, but according to inmates and their families, they are just for show.
“Badr has this massive medical facility where surgeries can be done, kidney dialysis, ICU rooms and so many amazing options but nobody gets to use it, or at least we don’t get to,” said Mohamed Douma, the brother of long-imprisoned activist Ahmed Douma.
The Till the Last Prisoner campaign has documented five deaths within the prison complex since it opened just over one year ago, including at the end of a hunger strike over prison conditions, with authorities yet to carry out any investigations into the deaths.
According to Reuters, the new Badr prison which Egypt touted as a model for reform and which holds some of its most prominent prisoners denies inmates healthcare and subjects them to punitive treatment including isolation, relatives of those inside and rights groups say.
Many of the inmates now in Badr prison on the outskirts of Cairo were moved from Tora, an older facility in a southern suburb of the city that held prisoners including leaders of the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood and other political activists.
Rights groups estimate tens of thousands of people have been jailed for political dissent under Egypt’s Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and have long reported abuses including systemic torture and life-threatening conditions inside its jails.
The government, which says it does not hold prisoners for political reasons, never responded to requests for comment on similar reports addressing the human rights abuses in Egyptian prisons.