Thinking Aloud: (More) Prison Abuse in Egypt

Sept. 4, 2015 by Darius 

When someone is sentenced to a prison term, it isn’t a death sentence. That’s the point. In Egypt, though, it doesn’t work that way. According to international rights groups Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, the Egyptian government has killed more than 100 Islamist political prisoners over the last two years by deliberately withholding medical care.

Thousands of Islamists, mostly supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood, were jailed in the aftermath of the military coup in 2013 that overthrew President Mohamed Morsi. Today, it is estimated that up to 40,000 political prisoners, most of them Brotherhood supporters, are currently languishing in Egypt’s prisons.

Apparently, the Egyptian government has decided that these political prisoners aren’t worth saving. Family members, activists, and other prisoners have described a pattern in which prison officials decline to allow doctors to treat inmates, fail to transfer inmates to hospitals in medical emergencies, and even pressure medical professionals to doctor their reports (pun intended) to show that prisoners are healthy, even when they are gravely ill.

Exact numbers of how many prisoners have died as a result of medical neglect are, unsurprisingly, unavailable. More than 100 cases have been documented by rights groups, but the actual number is likely much higher. Of course, the Egyptian government denies all accusations.

Obviously, such medical neglect is illegal at every level. International law dictates that prisoners should have access to the same medical care as the general population, and the Egyptian constitution specifically protects the access of prisoners to medical care. The Egyptian government just doesn’t care.

Are there any human rights the Egyptian government has not violated?

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