Egypt builds 10 new prisons worth $12bn despite its bad economic state

May 9, 2016

Egyptian authorities decided to build a new central prison in Qaliubiya, north of Cairo, becoming the tenth prison to be issued for building since the military coup of July 2013.

The Egyptian Interior Minister, Magdy Abdel Ghaffar, said that the prison is specialised for residents in the vicinity of province in which the new prison will lie.

Since the overthrow of Morsi, Egyptian prisons have been teeming with large numbers of opponents of the regime, some of whom died as a result of medical negligence, a charge denied by security authorities. Scorpion prison, south of Cairo, has seen the most deaths due to medical negligence.

Human rights researcher Ahmed Mefreh states that the prison system in Egypt’s legal system opens the way for executive authorities, especially the interior minister, to issue decrees, such as the establishment of the prisons, without being subjected to any judicial or legal justification.

He added that this has led to the withdrawal of many places of detention in the country outside the country’s judicial control framework, noting that “the continued construction of prisons without looking to stop the mass human rights violations that are taking place is odd, confirming that the expansion of the restriction of freedoms policy is becoming systemised in Egypt”.

According to Egyptian human rights organisations, “there are more than 40 prisons across Egypt, along with 382 detention centres inside police stations, on top of the secret prisons within security headquarters (which follow the Ministry of Interior), and within military headquarters (which follow the Department of Defence).”

Egyptian authorities are facing criticism from jurists and families of political detainees on the expansion in the construction of prisons at the expense of rights and freedoms. The interior ministry and the presidency refute these charges and say that they are committed to the Constitution and the Egyptian law.

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