Coronavirus infection outbreak in Scorpion Prison in Egypt

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Over the last 10 days, We Record human rights organisation monitored the presence of suspected cases of infection in more than one ward of the 992 high-security Scorpion Prison. The organisation confirmed that it recorded the rejection of the prison’s administration to provide the necessary healthcare to the infected prisoners, which put them at risk of health complications and possibly death.

The prison witnessed the death of the former parliament member for three sessions and the doctor, Hamdy Hassan, in unknown circumstances. Hassan was the spokesperson of the Muslim Brotherhood bloc. The prison also recorded 13 deaths since 2013.

According to the statement, the Scorpion Prison is one of the worst prisons in Egypt considering the safety and security standards. Also, the prison administration keeps violating all laws and regulations as it has restricted visitors since 2016. The prison administration also prevents prisoners from receiving medicine, medical care, and healthy and fresh food, as well as from exercising, exposure to the sun, and appropriate bedding and clothing.

The organisation called on the Public Prosecutor and concerned parties to speed up intervention and conduct a medical examination of all prisoners and the provision of the necessary health care. It also called on the Egyptian Ministry of Interior to reopen visits to prisoners in accordance with the provisions of the applicable laws.

Hassan passed away in his cell in after eight years of arbitrary detention. On 19 August 2013, the security forces arrested him as he had been jailed in the notorious Borg El-Arab Prison, which where many Muslim Brotherhood detainees are incarcerated. Hassan stayed in prison for eight years in connection to several cases and was later acquitted, besides being deprived of family visits for five years. Hassan is the 44th detainee to die in a prison, detention centre, or police station because of deliberate medical neglect, coronavirus infection, torture, or other unknown causes during 2021 that witnessed 23 deaths in the first half of the year.

According to the Egyptian Network for Human Rights, in 2020 there were 79 recorded medical neglect deaths inside prisons and detention places in Egypt. During the past seven years, about 774 detainees have died in various detention facilities, including 73 in 2013, 166 in 2014, 185 in 2015, 121 in 2016, 80 in 2017, 36 in 2018, and 40 in 2019.

Several human rights organisations have warned of the continuation of violations and the degradation of living conditions of political prisoners in this prison. All of that resulted in the deaths of 13 detainees because of medical neglect, poor detention conditions, attempts of suicide and open hunger strikes for months.