On International Transgender Day of Visibility, Malak al-Kashef has been held for 13 days in solitary confinement in the men’s wing of a prison in Tora Prison Complex.

Press Release

31 March 2019

On International Transgender Day of Visibility, a day to celebrate transgender people, Malak al-Kashef has spent 13 days in solitary confinement in the men’s prison of the Tora Prison Complex and Hossam Ahmed’s detention has been renewed for 15 days; both are being detained in connection with case no. 1739/2018.

Malak al-Kashef and Hossam Ahmed have both been subjected to assaults by doctors while in custody. The Prisons’ Authority forced Hossam Ahmed to undergo a full physical examination and inspection of his genitals without an order from the prosecution, although he has a medical certificate issued by a general hospital describing his condition and medically qualifying him for transsexual therapy; the certificate states that he has not undergone any surgical procedures. This exam therefore was medically unnecessary and constitutes a physical and psychological assault on Hossam Ahmed. The Interior Ministry also compelled Malak al-Kashef to undergo a physical exam. Doctors at a general hospital forced her to submit to an anal exam, in a violation of her physical and psychological safety. Compulsory anal exams are considered a form of degrading treatment repeatedly prohibited by the UN Committee Against Torture and constitute the crime of sexual assault under Article 268 of the Penal Code. Both al-Kashef and Ahmed confirmed that they had been assaulted during questioning.

Hoda Nasrallah, a lawyer with the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights and counsel for Hossam Ahmed, submitted a petition to the prosecution requesting that Ahmed receive his medication while incarcerated. The prosecution ordered him to be referred to a competent physician for treatment, but thus far, 15 days later, executive bodies have not implemented the prosecution’s order or permitted the entry of medication. The EIPR affirms Ahmed’s right to receive treatment and the duty of the Interior Ministry to implement the prosecution’s order for medical referral and access to medication.

The EIPR condemns the Interior Ministry for holding al-Kashef in the Tora men’s prison in solitary confinement pending investigation in case no. 1739/2018. Detaining Malak, who is a transwoman, in a male prison facility makes her more vulnerable to physical and psychological violence. Moreover, solitary confinement is considered a penalty in prison. According to Article 43 of Law 396/1956 regulating prisons (amended in 2015), solitary confinement is a disciplinary penalty and in any case may not exceed 15 days. During solitary confinement, prisoners are held in a cell for 22 or more hours a day with no human contact. The UN Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners—known as the Nelson Mandela rules—stipulate in Rules 43–45 that in no circumstances may disciplinary penalties amount to torture or other forms of cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment. The rules also prohibit indefinite solitary confinement and solitary confinement exceeding 15 days.

The EIPR asserts that the Interior Ministry is responsible for the psychological and physical safety and security of Malak al-Kashef and affirms its responsibility to ensure a safe, gender-appropriate place of incarceration for her. We further affirm the importance of maintaining her right to outdoor time in keeping with Egyptian prison regulations and ensuring that she is attended to by female supervisors and employees during her confinement. Rule 81(3) of the Nelson Mandela rules states, “Women prisoners shall be attended and supervised only by women staff members.” The Interior Ministry must prioritize al-Kashef’s safety above any other administrative concerns when selecting her place of confinement, and she should be transferred to a women’s prison, released, or be placed under other precautionary measures pending investigation.

The EIPR affirms Hossam Ahmed’s right to receive medication during his incarceration as a basic right to health, as enshrined in the Egyptian constitution, Article 56 of which guarantees the right of health to prisoners and prohibits endangering their lives or health. Similarly, Egyptian prison regulations guarantee prisons the right to treatment and access to specialists. The EIPR underscores the duty of the Interior Ministry to implement the prosecution’s order in this regard.