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The New Arab

Egypt: '13 new prisons built' since Sisi took power

Mahmoud Abu Zeid [Shawkan] is one numerous journalists and photographers detained in Egypt [AFP]

Date of publication: 7 September, 2016

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Over $1 billion has been invested in the expansion of Egypt's prison system while government austerity measures hit Egypt's poorest.

Thirteen new prisons have been built in Egypt since the military coup of June 2013 that overthrew the country's first democratically-elected president, according to a report by local rights group Arabic Network for Human Rights Information [ANHRI].

The "increase in the number of prisons means a rise in the deprivation of freedom" ANHRI said.

The report also claims that an additional three prisons are still under construction.

This increase in prison numbers brings the total number of detention centres in Egypt to 504, a figure that dwarfs the 43 that existed prior to the overthrow of president Hosni Mubarak in 2011.

Gamal Eid, Head of ANHRI, says that at least two of the recently constructed prisons have a capacity of 15,000 inmates.

The expansion of Egypt's prison system comes amid a sustained campaign of suppression of free speech and political dissent by the Sisi regime, which has jailed hundreds of activists, journalists and protesters.

Allegations of abuse by authorities and poor conditions in Egyptian prisons are common, with a detained leader of the Muslim Brotherhood having recently claimed that he was stripped and photographed naked by security officials.

The ANHRI report on Egypt's expanding prison system comes at a time when the country's government is imposing austerity measures - including subsidy cuts and tax hikes - in order to save the nation's ailing economy.

Despite these moves that will hit Egypt's poorest hardest, the Interor Ministry's budget has been increased to 9 billion Egyptian pounds [$1.01 billion] to facilitate the expansion of Egypt's detention system.

This expanded system will give Egypt the ability to add even more prisoners to its current prison population of around 106,000, of whom close to 60,000 are political prisoners.



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