With torture rife and prison conditions falling far short of international standards, there is a human rights crisis in Egypt’s prisons. Within this context, Amnesty International has examined the Egyptian authorities’ use of solitary confinement as a tool to inflict additional punishment against, in particular, prisoners with a political profile.
Through its research it has found that solitary confinement for such prisoners is often imposed arbitrarily and without judicial oversight. It invariably amounts to cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment, and sometimes to torture. Prisoners are held in prolonged or indefinite solitary confinement or placed in cells with inhumane conditions or subjected to collective punishment. In some cases, they are also subjected to physical torture.
Amnesty International urges the Egyptian authorities to use solitary confinement only in exceptional circumstances and after fair proceedings subject to review and never to extend it beyond more than 15 consecutive days. They should ensure that prisoners in solitary confinement continue to enjoy their rights to adequate food, access to adequate medical care, personal hygiene, visits, exercise and access to fresh air and natural light. They should also establish an independent mechanism to visit places of detention to help prevent unlawful practices.