The Ministry of Interior denied the reported claims that winter clothes were not allowed into the maximum security Tora Prison B, dubbed “Al-Aqrab”, for prisoners, a ministry official told Daily News Egypt on Tuesday.
“Those reports are far from truth,” the official said.
The statement was in response to claims by the families of prisoners who reported on social media platforms and on news websites that the prison did not allow winter clothes in the facility and has banned family visits.
In August, the National Council for Human Rights (NCHR) visited the same prison after receiving complaints from families of prisoners claiming that the duration of visits were reduced to only ten minutes. They also said that medical treatment was banned, food kiosks were shut down, and that prisoners were banned from working out.
During NCHR’s visit, the interior ministry debunked the complaints. Deputy interior minister reportedly showed NCHR delegation representative Hafez Abu Saada the visit dates for prisoners since the beginning of 2015, including August.
Regarding closing the food kiosks, the ministry sent a record of expenses and revenues during June, July, and August.
Several NGOs and rights groups described the delegation’s findings as merely “beautifying the image of the government” and a lost opportunity for defending prisoners’ rights.
Abu Saada replied, saying that every member retains the right to voice their opinion and stance, and the council respects it.
“NCHR received many complaints about Al-Aqrab prison and so requested permission to visit,” Abu Seada explained. “The approval took place suddenly and unexpectedly. We were scheduled to visit Abu Za’abal prison on the same date but we went to Al-Aqrab instead because it’s a chance not to be missed”.