Egypt: Detained journalists to receive treatment after union sit-in

Egypt: Detained journalists to receive treatment after union sit-in
2 min read
01 March, 2016
Egyptian journalists behind bars will finally receive medical treatment after a sit-in by fellow media workers at the press syndicate forced the interior ministry to meet their demands.
At least 30 journalists are currently imprisoned or detained pending trial [Anadolu]

Egypt's interior ministry has agreed to allow detained journalists to receive medical treatment, hours after fellow journalists staged a sit-in at the press syndicate to protest the "mistreatment" of their jailed colleagues.

Khaled el-Balshy, head of the syndicate's freedom committee, said in a Facebook post that the interior ministry had ordered intensive medical care for journalists suffering from poor medical conditions in detention.

Journalists Heshan Gaafar, Youssef Shaaban, Hani Salah al-Din, Hossam al-Sayyed, and others have been referred to public hospitals to receive treatment, based on orders by the interior ministry, which allowed the families of some journalists to visit them.

According to Balshy, an urgent meeting will soon take place with interior minister Magdy Abdel Ghaffar.

The Arab Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI) expressed solidarity with the detained journalists and support for the syndicate sit-in.

"The incarceration of journalists and the crackdown committed against them have become a manner that is pursued daily by the Egyptian authorities, in an attempt to curb and suppress dissidents who are calling for the peaceable change," ANHRI said in a statement on Monday.

"Therefore, a decisive reaction has to be adopted to face these authorities, halt their oppression, and urge them to comply with the constitution and law."

The Cairo-based human rights organisation also demanded all freedom of expression advocates to pressure the government into releasing the journalists.

"[ANHRI] calls for the provision of health care for journalists in prisons, and allowing the press syndicate's members to visit them," it added.

The incarceration of journalists and the crackdown committed against them have become a manner that is daily pursued by the Egyptian authorities, in an attempt to curb and suppress dissidents who are calling for the peaceable change.
- ANHRI

At least 30 journalists are currently imprisoned or detained pending trial on various felony and misdemeanour charges.

Last week, the press syndicate filed a complaint after families of journalists detained in the notorious 'Scorpion' Prison spoke out against the "slow death" facing them.

The union called for an official inquiry into reported violations against imprisoned journalists, demanding humane conditions, appropriate medical care and family visits.

Conditions in Egyptian prisons have been roundly criticised after scrutiny by local and international human rights organisations.

In its 2015/16 annual report, Amnesty International described conditions in Egyptian detention facilities and police stations as "extremely poor".

"Cells were severely overcrowded and unhygienic, and in some cases officials prevented families and lawyers giving food, medicine and other items to prisoners," the report said.