Solitary Confinement in Egypt’s Prisons

Amnesty International’s new report on the abuse of solitary confinement in Egyptian prisons highlight two of Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights’ clients: Malek Adly and Mahmoud Hussein. Crushing humanity: the abuse of solitary confinement in Egypt’s prisons reveals the deplorable conditions dozens of human rights activists, journalists, and members of the opposition face while being held in solitary confinement. Intense beatings, malnutrition, and severe isolation are routinely wielded against those who are currently incarcerated in Egypt. Prolonged stays in solitary confinement – which can last up to multiple years – is a distinct and brutal form of torture.

Human rights attorney Malek Adly spent 114 days in solitary confinement at the Tora Prison Complex. In the report, he recalled to Amnesty International researchers the main reason he was given for being held in solitary confinement: “I asked prison guards about the reason for placing me in solitary confinement unlike other prisoners and they told me that was because prison authorities had classified me as a dangerous prisoner given the nature of my case, which involved inciting people to participate in unauthorized protests.” On August 25, 2016, Malek Adly was conditionally released from prison. His case is still ongoing.

Mahmoud Hussein is an acclaimed journalist who worked as a News Editor for Al Jazeera’s Arabic TV Channel. In December 2016, Hussein was stopped at the Cairo International Airport, questioned, and detained for more than 15 hours. A couple of days later, Hussein was seized outside his home without a warrant and taken into custody. He has been detained for over 500 days. According to Hussein’s daughter Zahraa – she has been repeatedly denied visits with her father. “Since my father’s first night in prison, they sent him to solitary confinement after cutting his hair by force. He spent about 100 days in the solitary cell, without being allowed even a minute for outdoor exercise, unless he had an interrogation session in the Office of the Prosecutor.”