Egyptian NGOs call for investigation into conditions at notorious Badr prison complex following suicide attempts

Egyptian NGOs call for investigation into conditions at notorious Badr prison complex following suicide attempts
Dozens of Egyptian NGOs have publicly criticised the government's notorious Badr prison system and called for international intervention after dozens of prisoners attempted suicide in response to abuse.
3 min read
22 March, 2023
The 'Badr Correctional and Rehabilitation Centre' was originally hailed as a "model for reform" [Getty images]

Thirty-eight Egyptian NGOs have called for an international investigation into a notorious prison in the country, following a rise in suicide attempts amid growing incidences of prisoner abuse.

A joint statement issued by the Egyptian Front for Human Rights and signed by other NGOs on Tuesday called for the Red Cross and independent rights groups to look into conditions at Badr prison complex.

Egypt has jailed tens of thousands of political prisoners in conditions that have been deplored by rights groups. 

"Prisoners are being driven to suicide and hunger strike, trying to find a way to push back against their conditions," said the group. 

"We call upon the international community - including Egypt’s allies in the United Nations and civil society worldwide - to demand transparency over what is happening in Egyptian jails." 

Human rights groups say they have recorded instances of torture using electricity, routine denial of medical care, and solitary confinement with no food. Such conditions for prisoners have been widely reported in the past. 

"The ICRC [Red Cross] must be allowed in to monitor and treat prisoners who have been denied healthcare," said the joint statement. 

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Democracy for the Arab World Now (DAWN) said earlier this month that the UN Human Rights Council should investigate prior leaked reports of serious human rights abuses at the Badr 3 Prison.

"The leaked messages from Badr prison detailing horrific abuses highlights both the growing desperation inmates feel and the utter failure of El-Sisi's alleged prison reforms," said Jon Hoffman, Research Director at DAWN.

Prisoners have attempted suicide using a variety harrowing methods, the Al-Shehab Centre for Human Rights said.

Detainees at Badr 3 have protested the dire conditions for several weeks and are demanding authorities provide them with basic rights, threatening to kill themselves if their demands are not met.

Authorities have allegedly banned family visits and even prisoners' contact with their lawyers.

During a ten-day period ending up on 1 March, at least 55 detainees attempted suicide, according to messages leaked from inside the prison. Dozens have announced an open-ended hunger strike.

Upon its opening, the Egyptian government hailed the "Badr Correctional and Rehabilitation Centre" as a "model for reform", taking journalists on a tour of the complex.

Critics said this was an attempt by the Egyptian government to mollify Western criticism of its rights record.

Badr, which holds some of Egypt's most prominent prisoners - including leaders of the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood and other political detainees - denies inmates healthcare and subjects them to punitive treatment such as isolation, relatives of detainees and rights groups say.

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