On June 4, 2016, the Minister of Interior opened the “15th of May Central Prison,” south of Cairo, to relieve overcrowding in Cairo’s police stations. The prison is equipped with a hall for the public prosecution for conducting investigations, and another one for the judges for holding trials, as well as a room for lawyers. This means that the prison was designed to be an all-in-one place of detention, interrogation, trial and imprisonment.
Although it is a central prison, it can hold up to 4,000 prisoners, which is not usual for central prisons, which usually have a capacity of up to a few hundred prisoners. The number of detainees held in this prison, two months after it’s opening, is about 3,200 prisoners.
Before and after the opening of the 15th of May prison, news of protests taking place in new prisons which were unknown to citizens or even to lawyers, were spreading: prisons such as Gamasa prison, Kilo 10.5, al-Nahda prison, Qantara prison, and others. There was also a lot of news about huge numbers of prisoners, without the actual figure of the number being declared, which required such an obvious expansion in the construction of prisons.
When the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI) began researching and looking for the number of new prisons and their locations, the first place they searched was the Ministry of Interior’s website. Surprisingly, the section of the prison authority had not been updated since 2008. Moreover, the list published on the website included the names of 25 prison areas, without providing the names of all prisons in Egypt, old or new, and without any mention of the number of prisoners.
ANHRI, in it’s new report, claim that the number of legal places of detention is more than 504. These fall into the following categories:
– The old prisons built before January 25 Revolution: 43 prisons.
– The new prisons built after the revolution, whether the ones that receive prisoners, or the ones that are still under construction: 19 prisons.
– The central prisons scattered all over the cities and governorates of Egypt, not including Cairo: 122 central prisons.
– The various police stations and police departments in all the provinces and cities of Egypt: 320 stations and departments.
These figures are in addition to hundreds of places of detention in police checkpoints or departments of criminal investigation, which by virtue of an old decision by the Minister of Interior back in 1969, became considered legal places of detention, as well as the illegal places of detention, such as, security camps and military prisons, which the state denies the use of such places for the detention of citizens, despite numerous testimonies by former detainees after their release.
Read the full report here.