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Three die in Egyptian detention in first days of July

The deaths highlight the poor conditions and lack of healthcare in Egyptian detention centres
Yasser Farouk Al-Mahlawi had been in detention for two and a half years prior to his death (Facebook)

Three detainees have died in Egyptian detention since 1 July, highlighting deterioration conditions inside the country’s detention centres, said the Geneva-based human rights advocacy organisation Committee for Justice (CFJ) on Tuesday.

The foundation has documented the cases of three detainees, including Yasser Farouk Al-Mahlawi, who had been in detention for two and a half years prior to his death.

He was accused of belonging to a banned political group and smuggling funds abroad, stated the CFJ.

The second prisoner, Mohamed Ibrahim Mohamed Ali Hamad, died on 2 July after being transferred to a maximum-security prison hospital.

He was suffering from liver disease, which combined with the conditions of his imprisonment, led to a deterioration in his health and subsequent death. CFJ blames his death on the improper health treatment provided by the prison administration.

Ahmed Yassin, the third detainee who died in July, suffered from a heart attack in prison, after which he was moved to a prison hospital. He was accused of spreading false news about the political and economic situation in the country.

The rights group said it has documented 1,163 deaths inside detention centres in Egypt since 2013.

In 2021, it registered 62 deaths in detention centres and prisons, while in 2022, there were a total of five deaths.

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, the former defence minister, became president in 2014 after a military coup that had toppled his democratically elected predecessor Mohamed Morsi a year earlier.

Since then, his government has targeted members and supporters of Morsi's administration in a widespread crackdown. More recently he has also targeted the secular opposition.

Rights groups have accused his government of jailing tens of thousands of peaceful critics under the pretext of fighting terrorism. 

According to the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information, the total number of prisoners in Egypt in March 2021 was 120,000, with an estimated 65,000 political prisoners - at least 26,000 of whom were held in pre-trial detention.

Sisi launched a "national strategy" for human rights in September last year, insisting that education, health and electricity were more important than freedom of assembly, which is virtually forbidden in the country.

President Sisi has repeatedly denied that his country holds any political prisoners, but his administration has recently launched an initiative to pardon prisoners detained in connection with political cases.