0139 GMT November 13, 2019
The rights group's report said authorities of Aqrab (Arabic for scorpion) maximum security prison in Cairo that houses many political prisoners routinely abuse inmates, sometimes causing death.
“Scorpion Prison sits at the end of the state’s repressive pipeline, ensuring that political opponents are left with no voice and no hope,” said Joe Stork, deputy Middle East and North Africa director at Human Rights Watch.
The purpose of the prison is to “throw government critics and forget them,” he said.
Major General Ibrahim Abd al-Ghaffar, a former prison warden, revealed back in 2012 during a television interview that the prison was built specially to incarcerate “political prisoners.”
Scorpion supermax prison “was designed so that those who go in, don’t come out again, unless dead,” he said.
The Egyptian government has been engaged in a crackdown on opposition since democratically-elected Mohamed Morsi was ousted in a military coup led by current President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi in July 2013.
Human Rights Watch gathered information and medical evidence from 20 relatives of inmates held in Scorpion, two lawyers, and one former prisoner, pertaining to the report.
Relatives said authorities prevented prisoners diagnosed with cancer and diabetes from receiving medical treatment and failed to investigate their deaths.
The deaths of at least six Scorpion inmates between May and October 2015 is attributed to the strict ban.
The report said since the months-long visit ban in 2015, authorities have continued to arbitrarily ban inmates from meeting their families or lawyers for weeks or months.
Between Morsi’s overthrow in July 2013 and May 2014, Egyptian authorities arrested or charged at least 41,000 people, according to one documented count. About 26,000 more may have been arrested since the beginning of 2015, lawyers and human rights researchers say.
Rights groups say the crackdown has led to the deaths of over 1,400 people.