Egypt: Human rights groups warn of ‘torture and abuse’ at Badr prison complex


Human rights groups said on Monday that collective punishment is underway at Egypt’s Badr prison complex, warning of “numerous suicide attempts and hunger strikes among detainees”.

Thirty-eight Egyptian and international organizations wrote to express their “greatest concern” and fear about “the nature and scale of the abuses that are taking place”.

The groups said they were unable to support reports of abuse and suicide attempts due to the lack of transparency from the Egyptian authorities.

They called for the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) to be given unrestricted access to prisons in Egypt and for Egypt’s international allies and the United Nations to demand transparency in the country’s prison system.

Since the transfer of prisoners to Badr began in June 2022, “at least four deaths have been reported”, said the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies (CIHRS), one of the signatories of the letter.

“In at least three of these cases, authorities failed to respond to calls for medical assistance,” said CIHRS, which published the letter.

Other forms of abuse “amounting to torture” have been recorded by the rights organizations.

These include “keeping cells with bright lights 24 hours a day” and “chaining prisoners to the walls of their cells without food or water for days at a time”.

Prisoners, who are monitored 24 hours a day, have reported receiving electric shocks if they request improved conditions, CIHRS said.

In October 2022, Omar Mohamed Ali, a prisoner, was reportedly subjected to sexual harassment by prison security personnel after he was transferred to Badr prison.

Sisi prison building

On September 11, 2021, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi announced the launch of a National Human Rights Strategy that included plans to modernize prisons.

Egypt: Why prisoners are dying in Sisi’s new ‘model’ prison

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Soon after, the authorities opened two large prison complexes, Badr and Wadi el-Natrun, and a year later began relocating political prisoners to the new facilities.

Since becoming president in 2014, Sisi has built at least 28 new prisons, more than a third of Egypt’s total, which is now estimated at 81.

Sisi has promoted the new prison facilities as a model for human rights compliance, but rights groups have criticized them for falling short of international standards.

The Badr prison complex, located 70km northeast of Cairo, opened in December 2021. It is officially named the Badr Correctional and Rehabilitation Center.

It includes three prisons, including Badr 3, where many high-profile political prisoners were held after being transferred from the notorious Tory Prison complex in mid-2022.

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