Human Rights

Increased concerns for “Tora” prisoners after the spread of “Corona”

The British newspaper “The Guardian” announced that the families of the detainees in the notorious “Tora” prison in Egypt fear the lives of their imprisoned children with the spread of the Corona virus inside it. 

The newspaper, in a report quoting human rights activists, said that parts of the prison were transferred to the quarantine of those who showed symptoms of the Coronavirus.

The newspaper added that the families of the prisoners in the Tora complex, which contains at least eight prisons and has two sections that are heavily guarded, said that the government’s announcement that the Covid-19 confrontation is merely words and formalities.

The newspaper quoted Mona Saif, sister of “Alaa Abdel Fattah”, who has been detained since September: “Things are volatile since the visits were banned in March.”

Saif says that the authorities restricted the supply of disinfectants for hands and soap provided by the prisoners’ families and failed to protect them from infection.

She said: “All workers are allowed to go home every day and return, which makes them vulnerable to infection.”

“They are dealing with prisoners who cannot obtain antiseptic substances or information about how the virus has spread,” she added.

The contact between the prisoners and the outside world was cut short after the visits were banned.

“But families and activists say parts of two buildings and part of the heightened security section are used to quarantine HIV-infected prisoners,” the newspaper said.

A coalition of human rights organizations earlier this month called on the Egyptian government to publish information about the number of prisoners who were infected with Covid-19.

Increased concerns for "Tora" prisoners after the spread of "Corona"

Fears increased after the death of Sayed Ahmed Hegazy last month, who worked at the large complex. He died in his family’s car, as the family was trying to find a hospital to treat the Corona virus.

On June 11, the family of Yasser Al-Baz, a Canadian national and detainee in Tora, said he started suffering from symptoms of the Covid-19 virus after a 42-year-old detainee died in the same cell as a result of the virus.

Two days later, the Egyptian Commission for Rights and Freedoms announced the death of a 51-year-old prisoner with corona virus on June 13.

The Ministry of Interior attempted to mislead Hegazy’s death at the beginning of this month, and published a video of efforts to counter the virus, accompanied by sound effects of examined employees and prisoners who had taken samples from them, while yellow clothes personnel cleared the prison entrances.

The newspaper says that Egypt is suffering today with a large increase of the Corona virus, as the number of infected people reached more than 50,000 cases.

An official said the number could be ten times the official numbers.

The Egyptian authorities refused to release the detainees to prevent the spread of infection.

It is worth noting that since 2011, Egypt constructed 19 new prisons due to the increase in detention cases and the imprisonment of thousands of people without trial.

There are about 60,000 prisoners in Egyptian prisons, according to Human Rights Watch figures, which say lack of medical care is normal.

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