Egypt: Calls for investigation into death in custody of al-Aqrab prisone

Egyptian authorities must urgently carry out a thorough, prompt, independent and impartial investigation into the death in custody of 30-year-old Hossam Hamed, a prisoner at al-Aqrab prison who has been in solitary confinement since at least 3 August 2019, amid allegations that he was tortured said Amnesty International.

Testimony from three sources close to the incident indicate that Hossam Hamed was repeatedly physically assaulted by prison guards while being held in solitary confinement in a disciplinary cell. During that time, sources said that for days he had been heard shouting and banging on the door, until he stopped one day. When the guards opened the door, he was found dead. Sources said that he had a swollen, wounded and bloody face following his death. According to these testimonies, Hossam Hamed appears to have been tortured.

The allegations that Hossam Hamed was tortured while in solitary confinement raise serious questions about his detention conditions and the circumstances of his death. The Egyptian authorities must order an effective and transparent investigation into his death and ensure anyone suspected to be responsible is brought to justice in a fair trial, said Magdalena Mughrabi, Deputy Middle East and North Africa Director at Amnesty International.

Egyptian security forces have an appalling record of using shocking brutality with near total impunity. In Egypt’s prisons, security forces frequently beat and subject detainees to torture and other ill-treatment against detainees without fearing the consequences.

The allegations that Hossam Hamed was tortured while in solitary confinement raise serious questions about his detention conditions and the circumstances of his death

Since he was transferred to al-Aqrab prison six months ago, Hossam Hamed was not allowed to receive family visits in prison, in violation of Egyptian prison regulations.

At least three other detainees have died in Egyptian prisons since July 2019, amid allegations of inadequate health care, ill-treatment and torture. Most recently, 29-year-old Omar Adel died on 22 July, five days after he was imprisoned in a solitary disciplinary cell, despite telling the prison authorities that his physical and psychological state would put his life at risk if he was held in solitary confinement.

Conditions at al-Aqrab prison are notoriously bad. In July, approximately 130 detainees launched a hunger strike in protest against their detention conditions and the prison authorities’ refusal to allow them to receive family visits. The authorities have retaliated with punitive measures that could amount to torture, according to a statement by detainees.

Amnesty International reiterates its calls on the Egyptian authorities to ensure that all detainees and prisoners are allowed to receive regular family visits, and to allow independent human rights monitors to visit al-Aqrab prison to investigate allegations of torture and other ill-treatment and inhumane conditions of detention.

Source: Amnesty International