Suffocation and fainting in Egyptian prisons due to heat wave and poor ventilation

July 1, 2016

The inmate Hassan Mohamed Hassan, 54, died on June 27 in a police station in Al-Menya Governorate as reported by the Arab Organisation of Human Rights (AOHR). Hassan died after the detention centre refused to provide him with any medical care despite suffering from a number of chronic diseases.

With the death of Hassan, the number of detainees who have died in Egyptian prisons since July 3, 2013, is 493, among whom 205 have died during the summer months, equivalent to 41.6% of the total number. These deaths are the result of detention under inhumane conditions, which worsen during the summer months with poor ventilation and the suffering from being accommodated in overcrowded prisons is exacerbated. These conditions in the summer cause increased cases of suffocation, and with the prison authorities denying inmates with any necessary medical care, the danger facing detainees doubles.

Many complaints have been received from families of some of the detained within many of prisons and places of detention across Egypt, all confirming the suffering of the detainees as the result of the high temperatures inside the cells, especially with poor ventilation leading to suffocation and shortness of breath among the detainees, leading to many cases of fainting. Despite these inhumane conditions, detention authorities deny inmates basic necessities or anything that may bring relief from the conditions, such as air conditioning or fans. Additionally, the deprive detainees of exercise, and frequently cut off power in the cells, stopping any fans or ventilators that may exist, without any back-up alternatives.

According to a statement from families of some of the detainees inside Abu Hammad police station in Al-Sharqiyya, more than 10 detainees fainted in the afternoon of June 27 as a result of a power outage in the cells. This caused ventilation failure (which is the only ventilation source inside the cells), leading to cases of suffocation or shortness of breath affecting most of the detainees, amid the utter neglect of the management of the centre to save the situation or to provide alternative means of ventilation.

Source: Arab Organisation of Human Rights

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