- Burkina Faso
- Cape Verde
- Central African Republic
- D.R. Congo
- Equatorial Guinea
- Guinea Bissau
- Ivory Coast
- São Tomé and Príncipe
- Sierra Leone
- South Africa
- South Sudan
Thursday, May 28, 2020
It is a hard figure to gauge but most estimates place the number of people in Egyptian prisons at more than 100,000, including those in pretrial detention.
According to official figures, the criminal justice system is well past the brink, with prisons at 160% over capacity and jails at 300% over capacity. Those conditions mean that prisoners are often forced to sleep on bare concrete floors in squalid facilities that lack adequate equipment to mitigate Egypt's extreme weather.
"Detention conditions in Egypt are, in general, overcrowded to the extent that sometimes detainees cannot sleep at the same time because there's not enough space, so they sleep in shifts," said Amr Magdi, Middle East researcher at Human Rights Watch. "There's not enough space there for everyone to stretch."
An activist writer and former detainee confirmed the overcrowded conditions and abuses committed in Egyptian prisons.
"In the cell, we were 70 people in a tiny room," said the writer, "We were taking turns sitting down on the floor, not even sleeping. The rest of us had to stand but we couldn't move. Walking was a luxury." The activist said more than a dozen children under the age of 16, including girls, had been taken to an interrogation room during their time at the detention facility. "I couldn't tell from the screams whether they were interrogating the boys or the girls," the activist said.
Overcrowded conditions and abuse further undermine the lives of prisoners when access to basic healthcare is denied. For many detainees with chronic diseases, receiving adequate treatment is improbable, at best.
"It's very difficult for someone to actually get transferred to a hospital," Magdi said. "Even when this happens, they usually go to the hospital for a test and then go right back to prison, despite the fact that their condition might warrant hospitalization."