Dozens Dead and Hundreds Injured at the Shebin al-Kom Prison as the Prison Administration Continues to Use Excessive Force Against Inmates

Press Release

23 February 2011

The Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR) today called for an immediate investigation into the excessive violence being used by officers at the Shebin al-Kom Prison in Monufiya against prison inmates since 25 January, which has left dozens dead and hundreds more injured. The EIPR asked the Public Prosecutor to take immediate action to stop the use of violence against prisoners and provide the necessary medical care for the injured and sick.

The EIPR has received credible information from inside the prison indicating that the warden and prison administration used tear gas canisters and live ammunition against inmates, ostensibly in response to a collective escape attempt organized by some prisoners. The prisoners deny this, adding that the administration shot at them while they were inside their cellblocks.

The EIPR added that it has a list of 17 prisoners among those killed so far in Cell Block A alone. The list includes the name of Kamal Said Mahmoud, who was killed while inside the cell on Sunday, 20 February.

“The Public Prosecutor must take action now to stop the murder of prisoners and save those injured in the Shebin al-Kom Prison,” said Magda Boutros, a researcher with the EIPR. “He must put an end to the collective killing of prisoners in other prisons around the country, especially since every day we discover more victims in more prisons.”

Testimonies from the Shebin al-Kom Prison indicate that the unrest that began in the prison on 25 January still continues, despite periods of calm. Several prisoners said that injured inmates only received medical care days after their injury. They added that they have been denied food, water, and electricity in the cellblocks for long periods since the beginning of the turmoil. They have also been denied family visits.

The unrest broke out again yesterday, 22 February, when security forces under the Interior Ministry, supported by army troops, attempted to evacuate some inmates. The prisoners refused, fearing they would be subjected to retaliation by administrations of other prisons.

Yesterday the EIPR contacted Gen. Khaled Hamdi of the Prison Authority, who said that the security situation does not permit the presence of prisoners because the cellblocks have been destroyed. He said that the Prison Authority had decided to evacuate the inmates and temporarily transfer them to other prisons until the necessary repairs could be completed.

The EIPR urged the Prison Authority to guarantee that the transfer of  prisoners  to other prisons will not endanger their lives or safety, and to guarantee their right to humane treatment in all cases.

The EIPR previously filed a complaint with the Public Prosecutor on behalf of 11 families of inmates at the al-Qata Prison in Giza on 9 February, asking for an immediate investigation into information received by the families that the prison administration had randomly opened fire on inmates in late January, killing dozens.