The Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR) condemns the involvement of the Ministry of Interior and its subsidiary department, the Prisons Authority, in the killing and injury of prisoners in Egyptian prisoners since the beginning of the Revolution (25 January), and in particular over the last few days. Numerous testimonies attest to the Prisons Authority’s involvement in creating a state of serious unrest in a number of prisons. The EIPR called for an immediate end to the ongoing violence and asked the Public Prosecutor to open an urgent, comprehensive investigation into all the events in question, which should include field inspections of prisons, hearing prisoners’ statements and the immediate referral of victims to forensic examination.
The EIPR has received consistent information from inside three separate prisons in recent days indicating that prison administrations played a suspicious role in fomenting chaos and instability inside these institutions, which led to the death of several prisoners and the injury of dozens more. At the same time, the Interior Ministry has intentionally misled the media with half-truths about the events, contradicted by testimonies obtained by the EIPR from inmates at these prisons.
“The Interior Ministry must stop using excessive violence, put an immediate end to the bloodshed in Egyptian prisons and comply with UN Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners,” said Magda Boutros, a researcher with the EIPR. “The involvement of the Ministry of Interior in these events violates international human rights conventions and principles, including the UN Convention Against Torture and the Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms by Law Enforcement Officials.”
In al-Abaadiya Prison in Damanhour, eyewitnesses said that in an unusual move, the prison administration opened the doors to all cellblocks on Wednesday, 2 March, and told the prisoners that whoever wished to leave should do so, after which guards opened fire on them.
In a phone call on Wednesday, one prisoner told the EIPR, “This morning we found all the doors of the cellblocks open and the officers were telling us, ‘Anyone who wants to leave can leave.’ In the whole prison there was only the warden and two officers, the rest weren’t there. The prisoners gathered in the courtyard where the warden tried to calm them down, but some prisoners took him hostage and put a knife at his throat and demanded that he open the main prison gate. As soon as the gate opened, the guards fired live ammunition at the prisoners and then started firing randomly everywhere inside the prison.”
The prisoner said that he personally saw five dead and three injured inmates, but he did not know the total number of victims. He added that some of the bodies had not been moved and were still in the prison.
The EIPR learned that the Damanhour Teaching Hospital registered five cases of death, including Hisham Mustafa and Sabri Ali Abd al-Megid, in addition to three names published in the press (Mohamed Abu Amer, Maher Said and Mahmoud Abd al-Moneim Salman). The hospital also admitted 13 people with serious injuries: Haitham Ali Mohamed Taher, Hossam Abd al-Razeq Abd al-Azizi, Reda Kamal Muslim, Mohamed Abdullah Kamel, Adel Mahmoud Ahmed, Sherif Adel Abd al-Razeq Shaaban, Mohamed Zaki Abd al-Moneim, Fathallah Ashour Fathalla, Kamal Anwar Saad, Ahmed Mahmoud Abd al-Hadi, Tareq Mustafa Salah, Mohamed Ahmed Hammouda and Tamer Mohamed Abd al-Hafez.
The EIPR and the Nadim Center for the Rehabilitation of Victims of Violence filed a complaint with the Public Prosecutor on 3 March asking for an investigation into the killing and injury of inmates at the Damanhour Prison.
The Shebin al-Kom Prison in Monufiya also witnessed serious violence between prisoners over the past few days.