Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi died in court on June 1, after six years in solitary confinement. A British parliamentary committee who spoke of his detention said many are questioning the condition of the other prisoners.
“The level of torture according to both Egyptian and international law, “many observers of the Egyptian affairs asked the following question:” If this is what a former president had faced; what dozens and hundreds of others Egypt prisoners are facing? ”
Egyptian and international human rights organizations have devoted continuous efforts over the last six years to document the names of prisoners who are facing the “slow executions”. Many prisoners lack health care as they are being refused necessary medical care, a systematic practice by the Egyptian authorities are resulting in deaths. There are many prisoners in the same situation as Mohamed Morsi.
Egyptian authorities’ violations of international treaties and the Egyptian constitution
The practice of Egyptian authorities in denying political prisoners health care violates the 1966 International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which states in article 7 that “No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.”
The United Nations Standard Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners, article 24 states that “The provision of health care for prisoners is a State responsibility. Prisoners should enjoy the same standards of health care that are available in the community, and should have access to necessary health-care services free of charge without discrimination on the grounds of their legal status.”
The practices of the Egyptian authorities are an infringement of the country’s own constitution, which stipulates that “Prisons and detention centers shall be subject to judicial oversight. All that which violates the dignity of the person and or endangers his health is forbidden”.
More importantly, the Egyptian authorities are continuing these practices against dozens of other detainees. According to documented data gathered by KIE, based on personal testimonies of prisoners families and lawyers, the following indicate what some political detainees in Egypt are facing now and putting their health at imminent risk.
“Slow execution” waiting list in Egypt
Former President Mohamed Morsi was not the first person to die in Egyptian prisons for failing to receive necessary medical care. A long list of detainees preceded him, unfortunately, but what about those who are still facing what he was? The list is long:
1- Mahmoud al-Khudairi (79 years old), a former lawyer and judge, former heard of the Court of Cassation and one of the leaders of the “Independence of the Judiciary” movement. He was arrested by security forces on 24 November 2013 in the Sidi Gaber area in Alexandria city.
In October 2014, he was sentenced to three years in prison for the charges of torture. He was allegedly involved in the torture of a lawyer in Tahrir Square during the January 25, 2011 revolution. In the same trail, there are some members of the Muslim Brotherhood accused as well, including Mohamed El-Beltagy, who was sentenced to 15 years in prison. Al-Khudair was also sentenced in the “Insulting the judiciary system” case.
Egyptian newspapers quoted al-Khudair’s daughter Marwa on 8 March 2015 as saying her father had suffered a chest ulcer in prison due to lack of movement, and that he needed urgent catheterization.
2-Abdel Moneim Aboul Fotouh (68 years old), Leader of the Strong Egypt Party, a former presidential candidate in the 2012 presidential election and a physician. He was arrested by Egyptian authorities in February 2018 after returning from London where he gave TV interviews demanding the Egyptian regime to open up the political space. The initial charges against Dr Abu Al-Fotouh included “leading a terrorist organization, dissemination of false news, and the undermining of public security.” He is currently suffering from heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes and slipped discolouration, and has recently survived angina. The prison administration refuses to provide him with necessary health care.
3 – Osama Ahmed Murad: He was arrested on May 27, 2015, from his workplace at the Azhari Institute where he worked as a Quran teacher in the village of Manouf in Tanta. He
disappeared for 10 days and then appeared in the State Security Prosecution in Cairo. The prosecution charged him of joining a terrorist group. His case No. 186 of 2014, was referred to the Criminal Court of North Cairo, and on 4 September 2016, he was sentenced to ten years’ imprisonment. Osama was subjected to harsh conditions including physical and psychological, which later caused him to attempt suicide. Although Egyptian human rights organizations have appealed to the Egyptian authorities to release him, and not to expose him to the same circumstances, the Egyptian authorities did not respond to the appeal.
4 – Ahmed Abdul Wahab Khatib (24 years) was a student at the Department of Nanotechnology at the University of Science and Technology. He was arrested in 2014
upon his return to Egypt from Turkey, where he received a university scholarship, he was accused of belonging to a terrorist group. Two years ago he started suffering from “Leishmania visceral”, which is also known as “black fever or deadly sickness”, but prison authorities did not provide him the necessary treatment. As his health started to deteriorate, his family pleaded to Egyptian authorities to grant him a health amnesty. His family wanted to get him treated and be allowed to spend his last days with his family. In a leaked message from prison, Ahmed Khatib wrote: “Perhaps these are my last words, maybe that’s it. I will die lonely and be forgotten.”
5- Ibrahim Abdel Moneim Metwally Hijazi (56 years) was an active lawyer in defending those that forcibly disappeared in Egypt and one of the founders of the Association of Families of the Forciapply Disappeared in Egypt. He was arrested by the Egyptian authorities at Cairo International Airport on 10 September 2017, when he was on his way to Geneva to participate in a human rights seminar highlighting the forcibly disappeared in Egypt. Five Countries – Canada, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom – issued a joint statement to express their deep concern at the detention of Hijazi.
After nearly two years of harsh conditions of detention, according to the Egyptian Center Against Enforced Disappearance, Hejazi now suffers from severe visual impairment, permanent shaking in the hands due to nerve damage caused by electric torture and has sustained redness in the eyes. He was only given very dim light in his cell, he also has been deprived of sunlight. Hejazi also has a prostate tumour.
His condition was so bad that he had difficulty in urinating and asked his family to bring the prison doctor, but the prison authorities did not respond to their demands. The prison authorities also prevented his family from delivering the medicines and vitamins they brought for Hejazi during their visit on March 3, 2019. Since then, no information about his medical condition has been revealed.
6- Dr Mohamed al-Beltagy (56 years), was a doctor and a former parliament member as well as a member of the Muslim Brotherhood. He was arrested in August 2013 and was sentenced to death for the case of “Rabaa al-Adawiya sit-in dispersal”. He also had a serious health condition on January 10, 2019, some of his jail inmates noticed that some of his body parts (tongue, hand and right leg) were not functioning well. His condition got worse followed by a number of psychological and neurological symptoms (loss of focus, insomnia and sleep disorders). These are all due to inhumane jail conditions and the pressure he is facing.
Al-Beltagy appeared in court on 3 March 2019 and it was visible to see his weakness and lack of concentration. He declared before the court that he had not received any medical care or treatment.
7 – Essam Sultan (55 years), was a lawyer, a human rights defender, a former parliament member, a member of the elected constitution committee and vice chairman of Alwasat Party. He was arrested in July 2013 after being charged with allegedly inciting violence, killing demonstrators and insulting the judiciary, he was sentenced to 25 years in prison. In March 2019, he sent a letter to the United Nations Human Rights Council. He demanded the council to form an international committee to visit the Scorpio Prison in Egypt, to see the psychological and physical repressive measures taken by the Egyptian authorities against the prisoners.
8-Alia Awad (31 years old) was a photographer who was arrested on September 13, 2014. She wa
s in enforced disappearance until October 3, 2014, at the State Security headquarters in Cairo. She was then released and was arrested again on 23 October 2017, in a Cairo courtroom while filming a court hearing. She was in enforced disappearance for 5 days and then appeared on 28 October 2017, at the Helwan Police Station. Alia ‘Awad was in urgent need of health treatment as she had a tumour in her womb. The Egyptian authorities did not provide the necessary treatment and her condition deteriorated. She was harassed by the prison administration because she spoke to her colleagues who were journalists regarding her situation. Recently her tumour was removed but her condition is unstable.
9 – Moataz Wadnan (38 years), was a journalist, has worked in journalism for 15 years, but was not a member of the Egyptian Press Syndicate. He is being tried on the basis of case No. 441 of 2018
, on charges of spreading false news and joining a banned group. The charges against him came just after he interviewed the former head of the Central Auditing Organization, Hisham Jenina (who is also now in prison for giving this interview). Wadnan has been in pre-trial detention for a year and a half.
He was subjected to ill-treatment and abuse by the authorities since he was arrested, and his family was prevented from visiting him. He started a hunger strike more than once. Unfortunately, according to his family, he was tortured to end his hunger strike. His family filed a court case so they could visit him. The verdict was that his family should visit him but the prison authorities have not allowed him to see his family.
According to Wadnan’s wife, he began a hunger strike 60 days ago, and there was no news about him except that he was transferred to a cell with no water or electricity and the toilet was broken. She also said that authorities were giving him water in garbage bags. His lawyer said that he stayed there for a month, he wasn’t allowed to have a shower or wasn’t granted anything regarding hygiene which left his physical and mental health in a critical condition. Last time when he was in court, he ripped his clothes because the judge refused to listen to him.
11 – Abdel Rahim Abdel Halim Jibril (78 years) is one of the oldest political prisoners in Egypt. He
was arrested and sent to Wadi al-Natroun prison for more than five years on charges of inciting the burning of the Kerdasa Police station. A year and a half ago, he was put in a cell with the dimensions of 2 m × 3 m. There are two more prisoners in that cell, there is no water, toilets, electricity or ventilatio
n in the cell. This inhumane condition has increased their suffering, they are only allowed to go to the toilet once and are forced to stay in that cell the whole day.
12 – Khaled Hamdi Radwan (35 years old), was a journalist and father of two children Asma, seven years and Thaer who is three and a half years old. He was arrested on March 27, 2014, and dis
appeared for several months. He was tortured throughout the whole process of his disappearance. He suffers from a hernia in the diaphragm, reflux in the oesophagus and chronic ulceration in the stomach. “There are more than five deaths that I saw in front of me during my time in prison, all because of medical negligence. There is more on the waiting list, there is no ventilation and no sun, no operations are allowed, they didn’t let us access hospitals, they don’t dispense medicines in the prison’s hospital.” He wrote in a letter leaked out of the prison.
13 – Huda Abdel Moneim (60 years) was a human rights lawyer, and a former member of the National Council for Human Rights in Egypt, who was forcibly disappeared for three weeks and then appeared in the State Security Prosecution in New Cairo. Her family and lawyer didn’t know where she was. His health condition is very poor now. “As a human rights lawyer, now I am denied my human rights, family visits, at this age,” she told her family in a court hearing.
The above cases are just simple examples of what political prisoners are experiencing in Egypt. Many have died in Egypt since the army took power on 3rd of July 2013.