The number of prisoners in Egypt is from 50-70 thousand prisoners in 42 prisons in various governates in Egypt, statics provide as follow
28% are poisoned for unfulfilment of financial obligations, 28.8% are detained for handling and trafficking drugs, 12.7% holding illegal arms and 6% for other convictions and crimes.
The website of prison sector authority has determined that there are 25 prison areas in which there are 42 prisons. This information is ensured by vice minister of interior for prison sector in that time lieutenant general/ Moahmed Rateb says ( the number of prisons in A.R.E. are 42 prison).
This is the announced number but there are a large unannounced number of prisons which no one knows about them as the minister of interior has the authority to establish prison without announcing it or to transfer a certain place into prison area. Some places of military detention have changed lately into prisons.
Article 1, prison law n. 396/ 1956 has classified prisons into four types ; a)Penitentiaries (b) General prisons (c) Central prisons (d) Special prisons. They are all established by presidential decree, the difference between them determines the dwellers that spent their penalty and the release conditions of each type of them.
Surveillance type of detention places:
First: there are many concerned criterion about independent surveillance inside the international system as provide in United Nations regulations about protection of detained in 1990, Havana regulations, united nation regulations about prisoners treatment and undetentive measures of criminals in 2010, Bankbook regulations, Uniform rules to treat prisoners in 1957 and protection regulations of all people expose to detention or put in prison in 1988, all these regulations provide that surveillance independent mechanism has to enjoy with the following authorities and competence:
1) Independence (it means not to share in prisons management).
2) Equivalent supervision team who has got medical training.
3) There should be women in the supervision teams when supervising on women prisons.
4) Periodical visits.
5) There should be sudden un announced visits.
6) There should be supervision on all prison areas managed by the state.
7) All information and records about detention circumstances should be available.
8) It is allowed to meet prisoners confidentially.
9) It is allowed to choose detention utilities and to determine the persons who can visit it.
10) The availability of utility employees.
11) The ability to review reports by anyone.
12) There should be follow up of reports methodology.
13) The ability to follow up bad treatment and violence claims.
Second: surveillance of detention places in Egypt:
1- Surveillance of detention places in Egypt privately and in the Arab world in general is not suitable with international standards but there are great efforts to improve the current status for its importance.
2- The current surveillance system of detention places is the judicial and administrative systems that are less effective and do not alter the detention places reality. The concerned employees of detention places face many challenges as follow:
The refuse of surveillance principle and to consider outer interference either on the national level or the international level as interference in the state affairs and challenge of official high authorities.
The declaration of the visits and the necessity to get previous permission that gives the institute the chance to hide any bad treatment symptoms and inability to enter all detention utilities.
There are a lot of visit result that cannot be fulfilled for need of financial fund and undistracted surveillance.
Who has the right to perform surveillance on Egyptian prisons?
First: administrative supervision:
It is represented in the surveillance of prison sector inspectators in order to make sure that all legal conditions are fulfilled i.e. cleanness, sanity and security inside prisons and to raise reports to the general manager of prisons. (article 83) provides: all prisons have a another type of administrative supervision that all governates, managers have the right to enter the competent prisons any time and to record their notices and the prison authority has to inform those notices to the general manager of prisons.(article 84).
Second: judicial supervision:
This type of supervision is organized in articles 85, 86 prisons organization law. The former one gives the public sector and his agents the right to enter prisons in their competence circles anytime while the later one provides that presidents, vice presidents and prosecutors of district courts and appeal courts have the right to enter prisons in their competence circles anytime. The president and vice presidents of court of cassation have this right also and the prison management has to inform notices to the general manager of prisons. But it is noticed that judicial supervision in Egypt cannot exceed those limits and judges have no right to interfere in penalty execution.
Judicial supervision as provided in law 396/1956 added to law 57/1968 provides to put all detained, arrested or deprived of liberty in any one of the declared prisons in article 1 or in any other place determined by decree of interior ministry and they are governed by this law . The right to enter those places is as provided in article 85 the public prosecutor or his representative of prosecution president degree at least.
This article has an exception that this supervision is allowed to the public prosecutor or his followers of prosecution president degree at least.
This right is an obstacle in the way of judicial supervision as the public prosecutor has a lot of tasks and liabilities so it becomes hard to supervise the detention places. The procedures to appoint or transfer prosecution president takes long time and detention places may be away so that judicial supervision loses its essential two features; partnership and surprise.
The legal text provides that judicial supervision is limited to public prosecution and deprives presidents, vice presidents of district courts and appeal courts, magistrate judges, president or vice president of court of cassation to inter those places in violation to article 85, law 396/1956 about prisons organization and article 42, criminal procedures law. Therefore annulations of this article has become an important demand in order to purify all legislations of any exceptional texts inserted in the public legal system, it is a right of the public attorney and the general manager of prisons or his representatives only to supervise.
The way to enter prisons and to get information:
Article 42 of constitution provides:
Any person arrested, detained or his freedom restricted shall be treated in the manner concomitant with the preservation of his dignity.
No physical or moral harm is to be inflicted upon him.
Article 71 of constitution provides:
Any person arrested or detained should be informed, forthwith with the reasons for his arrest or detention.
He has the right to communicate, inform, and ask the help of anyone as prescribed in the law.
The legislative authority is supposed authority soa s legislation has not put limits on it. Constitution may give the legislative or the executive authority the right to regulate any subject but without any violation or assault of the protected constitutional rights by ignoring or decreasing them. (High constitutional court decision in case 92 /21J.C.)
First: law 396/1956 about organization of prisons:
Article 20 R. (added by decree no. 57/1968)
Any one deprived of his liberty without judicial decision, should be treated as those in preventive detention and any rule contradict with that should be annulled.)
Any prisoner has the right to contact with his relatives and they can visit him according to interior regulations of prison. Those are in preventive detention has this right without violation to the rules of criminal procedures law.
Visits may be cancelled according to circumstances sometimes for sanity or security reasons.
Second: internal regulations of prisons issued by interior minister decree no. 79/1961
The detained for simple imprisonment or provisional seizure has the right in postal communication with and their relatives anytime, their relatives can visit them once a week any day except Fridays and official holidays as long as the public prosecution or magistrate judge has not privrnted that for provisional seizure according to article 141/criminal procedures law.
Article 64, paragraph 2:
Relatives of the prisoner can visit him after one moth of penalty execution for once a moth as long as his behavior is good inside prison. This right is resigned if the month ends without any visits.
(Amended by interior minister decree 1582/1973, published in egyptian events newspaper vol. 210, in 16/9/1973.
The prisoner has the right in corresponding or visiting with his relatives him once before or after during transferring him to prison in a another city even if the visit time is not due. This visit or corresponding is not accounted with others. The prisoner who is transferred for seizure or for penalty in leman is excluded from this rule.
The sick prisoners in hospital are allowed to be visited in visit time as long as their status is fine and the doctor allows them to move but if the doctor does not allow that, the visit will be in the hospital in presence of chief nurse and after taking sanitary procedures by visitors.
( articles from 60-80, fifth chapter of the previous decree about visits and corresponding indicates and ensure that right but we ignore providing other articles about visit form or dates as they are not relate with the research. The same apply in articles 34-43, paragraph 3, eighth chapter, ministerial decree 654/ 1971 that indicated later)
Third: interior minister decree 654/ 1971 about central prisons regulations:
Relatives of Prisoners with work have the right to visit them once a week.
Relatives of Prisoners simple imprisonment or preventive detained have the right to visit them once a week as long as prosecution does not prevent that for those preventively detained.
It is noticed that article 17 allowed for prison manager after permission of public prosecutor to give all or some privileges of the preventive detained to those simply imprisoned.
The reality in detention places:
Circumstances are worse inside detention places. There is no supervision by public prosecution or by magistrates or by independent institutions. Therefore, torture increased and bad treatment of citizens increased inside police stations in 2014/2015 though there are many articles in penalty law that forbid torture and bad treatment committed by public employee against citizens. Those articles are not able to deal with all crimes against integrity of human body and torture. Those articles contradict international conveniences that Egypt has endorsed.
Though officials of interior ministry and public security authority has given instructions to treat citizens in a good manner, this phenomenon increase inside police stations and illegal detention places i.e. state security, central security camps.
The accused detained in those places is unable to communicate with his lawyer or his family. Some reports have indicated to torture occurred in police stations and death of many people. There were doubts that death cases was caused by torture. Mass media has concerned with this phenomenon and concern increased by newspapers and social media.
The introduced services to prisoners:
The state and civil institutes’ role is to take care of prisoner’s family (after care) between its form and application.
The after care of prisoners and their families:
We can define after care as some scientific and applicable efforts are undertaken by the concerned state authorities and volunteering. So as all efforts conjoin to supply care for prisoners and their families during penalty execution and after and before release in order to confirm psychological conformity of released prisoners in society to be productive individual in society. Difficulties do not force him again to commit crime. This definition declares that after care of prisoners and their families achieve direct targets and indirect targets that base on many principles such as:
o Join prisoner with the outer world is important and necessary as he has to join that world after penalty execution; therefore, it is necessary to provide communication means with that outer world such as visits, corresponding, and review of mass media.
o It necessary to allow prisoners to communicate with their relatives who enjoy with good reputation by corresponding or visit in certain periods and under surveillance.
Care of prisoner family as a mean of after care:
Care of the prisoner family during penalty execution or after release is an important method of institutional care and released prisoners care after penalty execution.
The concern with prisoner family is a method of after care and it relies on the following facts:
1. Family is the first core of social structure. It is the most spread phenomenon. It is the basic of stability in social life. Family determines the behavior of its members. It forms their character and gives them their features. Family is concerned with social bringing up.
2. Family is the cause of society presence and also it is the source or morals and the first support of behavior and its limitation. It is the frame in which man can learn social life lessons.
3. Saying that the criminal is out of destroyed family is not true as it not necessary to have a criminal in each destroyed family.
4. Family provider in Arab society is very important as he is considered the economic provider and holder of the family. He represents the controller in the family. So the family may be destroyed by losing that provider and may face great problems which threat its presence.
5. Prisoner family is the shelter of him after release so it is important to help them during penalty execution and this will make this family ready to receive the prisoner after release. It is considered the beginning point in the prisoner’s life after release. Either this family will be tender or kind with the released prisoner or it may force him to commit crime again.
6. Helping the prisoner family do not just mean aid and support but it also means social instruction that protect all its members from declination and to solve their problems through communication with training and working authorities and institutes in order to earn their livings by work and protecting them from crime.
7. The relation between the prisoner and outer world is essential in the social rehabilitation program as he heels belonging to this family and improve his psychological status.
Some people agree with that opinion as the prisoner suffers from many problems either outside or inside the prison. The former type of problems relates with the prisoner family such as educating children or providing therapy for his wife or his son. Another form of these problems as protecting patrimony. Social care employee and the concerned authorities have to communicate with prisoner family in order to fulfill those obligations and report the prisoner so as to feel psychological relief and to get benefit of rehabilitation and refinement inside prison.
There is no doubt that the minimum rules of prisoner’s treatment have ensured the necessity of close relation between prisoners and their families and to present care for those families. The following rules have provided that :
1) Rule 37: Relatives of Prisoners simple imprisonment or preventive detained have the right to visit them once a week as long as prosecution does not prevent that for those preventively detained.
2) Rule 44, paragraph 3: every prisoner has the right to inform his family at once if he arrested or transferred to another prison.
3) Rule 61: it is necessary to treat prisoners as part of society and to use all social authorities in that social rehabilitation of prisoners. There should be social employees who ensure the presence of that relation between prisoners and their families and to improve that relation. There should be protection of the civil rights of prisoners and their social insurance in uncontradiction with law and penalty execution.
4) Rule 64: social obligations do not end by the prisoner release. There should be official and private authorities able to provide care to released prisoner, to reduce weights on him and to rehabiliate him socially.
5) Rule 79: care starts at the beginning of penalty execution till his release. He has to be encouraged to keep relations with outer authorities and individuals who can care of his family and socially rehabilitate it.
In order to declare the prisoner or the released family, we should declare the problems that face those families after imprisonment of their provider. They may be simple or complex problems, hard or harmful, temporary or continuous problems. The normal family can easily face those problems successfully but it never feels weakness or desperation so as long it is able to do anything.
The concerned authorities which present care for prisoners and released families can be divided as follow:
Official authorities include: after care administration in interior ministry and social affairs ministry.
Civil authorities includes: prisoners and their families care societies.
The specified confederation of societies of prisoners and their families care.
Each authority role is to provide care for the prisoners and released families as follow:
After care administration in interior ministry:
It was established by ministerial decree 1272/1972, it includes 2 units:
Professional follow up unit:
It follows up the professional directing, social, sanitary committee care of prisoners and detained according to regulations. It follows their progress in training and to get rid of obstacles and to care of their families. It makes sure to provide social insurance and addition aids presented by prisoners care societies. This unit provides education to prisoners children and to achieve stability in education and psychologically.. it provided work opportunities for those children and encourages to establish professional rehabilitation centers through interaction with concerned authorities and ministers. It tries also to solve any problem that faces the prisoner family.
• Care unit of the released:
It concerns with:
1) It follows up prisoners, detained, preventive detained and released. it helps them to find jobs in order to earn their living through interaction with concerned authorities and ministers.
• It follows up the released activity in order to dissolve any problem till they become stable and rehabilitated and it warns them if they ignore advices or instructions and go on criminality.
• It prepares a report every 6 months during 2 years about the released follow up and about their stability in work and rehabilitation in society. Those files are kept in prisoners files.
• It makes propaganda to convince public opinion to help released and how public security benefits from this.
• Public relations units and departments in the branches of ministry of interior perform after release care of prisoners who have spent 6 months in coordination with after care department in public security authority.
• The ministerial decree no. 225/1973 provides to establish after care departments in criminal investigation department in security provinces. Each department is concerned with later care of prisoners who have spent 6 months.
• Article 3 in this decree provides that this concern is given to criminal investigation units inside criminal investigation departments.
• Then decree 1460 issued in 31/7/1983 about regulations of ministry of interior and to elevate this department to the level of administration which follow vice minister for social security.
The most important problems that face prisoners and their families:
There are a lot of negative effects and problems on prisoners’ families such as:
1. Economic problems.
Those problems led to family destruction and led to other serious problems such as bad feed, general weakness, indisposition, juvenile crimes, raise of death average ales ability to work and to product.
A lot of researchers see that economic problems can lead to inclination and criminality.
The prisoner may be the only source of income, his children are still minors, his wife may be unqualified to find a job and so low income works.
2. Sanitary problems:
The prisoner family may have sanitary problems because of the low income and decreased financial level. It is believed that repeated sickness may led to hatred and criminal behavior.
3. Moral problems:
Economic needs and increased requirements may led to criminal behavior because the prisoner family try to find money through illegal methods in addition to absence of father control which led to inclination inside the prisoner’s family.
4. Psychological problems:
Family is the holder where every individual can exchange love with others therefore it plays great role in self improvement. Family provides security and love to every member in it. Everyone has to get social graduation and psychological security in order to grow up correctly. If the person is deprived of that, he feels lonely, isolated, hatred and malice on all society. Then the person becomes more eager to inclination.
Psychological problems are like lose of self confidence which relates with the social status of the prisoner’s family and their need of self confidence and respect so there will be disturbance in their social relations and their feel of great price they pay for one mistake.
5. Social problems:
They include bad relations inside the family and outer world, family helps its member to adhere personal relations, information and effective share in social, economic systems in society. Parent care affect greatly in baby growth in early years. If the father is absent, then the family cannot do its role. There will be many disputed among children and each one will just consider substantial problems and ignore the family future. The wife is usually unable to play father’s role and this will affect the relations inside the family. The wife will be unable to control children in the absence of their provider and her work for long time.
Many wives may claim divorce which led to more serious effects on the whole family. Those changes in family structure increase obstacles and problems especially when the wife role is not clear. Beside bad relations inside family, we find the relation between family and society may take various forms as a result of the crime committed by its provider against society such as:
– Non interaction with the family members.
– No work opportunities in front of them.
– Bad treatment for the crime committed by the provider.
– No help or aids presented to the family.
Scholars of penal studies are concerned with good treatment inside prisons while in the past, prisoner reform ends by the end of penalty execution. This attitude has clear contradiction and society has to play its role in reform inside prison and after release of prisoner in order to overrule all obstacles and problems. This liability is called after care. This is not just the liability of government represented in ministry of interior and social affairs ministry but the private sector also is liable to present volunteer activities by nongovernmental organizations. Those organizations have widely spread in western world since the beginning of last century and this idea transferred to Arab countries.
6. After care of released can be achieved through three interrelated ways; the first one is taking care pr prisoners since the beginning of penalty execution till their release. The second is taking care of prisoners’ families till the end of penalty execution. The third one is taking care of the released one till he integrates and becomes good citizen who can build himself and share in building society as well as other citizens. It aims to face expected challenges such as:
1. Prisoners lose of some rights and privileges.
2. The surveillance by police forces.
3. Financial problems.
4. No job opportunities.
5. Refused by society.
6. Bad effect as aresult of of criminal elements.
The burden of after care in Egypt is upon national societies for prisoner’s care that established in the last decades. The Egyptian legislator has recognized in the last decades has not ignored the necessity to help and to assist released prisoners and he has concerned with this matter greatly in legislations and prison regulations.
Civil societies assistance to prisoners families are such as financial assistances , gifts and share in small projects according to available human and financial abilities.
The Egyptian ministry of interior share also in that field through aftercare department in public security authority which was established by decree 1272/1972, followed by the establishment of professional training unit by decree 725 /1973, and the establishment of many care units in criminal investigation units inside security governates. They take care of released who have spent more than 6 months in prison. At last the ministerial decrees (1460/1979) و(11/19801) issued to improve aftercare and to consider it an independent department follow social security sector in the interior ministry, to elevate the units to become departments and to reorganize this administration to include 4 branches; professional training, released prisoners care, prisoners families care, financial and administrative affairs with its substantive public relations unit . This unit holds campaigns to convince public opinion to assist released and to give them work opportunities.
The role of start initiative in rehabilitation and prisons reports:
Start initiative for social justice and human rights is established in 2013 in Abu Hamad city, Sharkia for rehabilitation and social consolidation. It was established by previous prisoner and some lawyers and volunteers. Start initiative provides rehabilitation programs for prisoners after their release in order to prevent their return back to crime, to protect society and to rebuild the released character.
Start initiative for social justice and human rights provide legal assistance support female prisoners in all cases freely. It rehabilitates prisoners socially and psychologically so as to have a lot of hope in future and to consolidate in society after exposing for many problems that can led to tranquility and crimes. The prisoner cannot earn his/ her living so the imitative presents social, legal and psychological rehabilitation in order to avoid committing crimes again. Start imitative issue I.D. for female prisoner after release.
We believe that the essential aim of imprisonment is to rehabilitate not just execute the penalty. We support alternative of imprisonment in order to rehabilitate previous prisoners. Our current services in start imitative are to rehabilitate and to support released prisoners but we will present more services for them before release in cooperation with interior ministry and prison governates. There are many interviews done with female released prisoners. We consider rehabilitation is the best way to indirect surveillance of prisons so that prisoners can estimate their experiment inside prison and to give answer to all question about prison status and the services present there.
There is a summary of the results of those interviews with review of family life of female prisoners, their construction circumstances and their opinion of the future as follow:
First example : A.M. female:
She is 42 years old, Muslim and employee from sharkia. She was accused in wrong death and imprisoned for 5years. She has lived in middle class family. She has married and lived with her husband in the same village. Their relation has become worse since she has imprisoned. She has bad vision of the future because she has lost her family life while she was in prison. Her relation with her relatives was collapsed since she imprisoned. She is considered criminal by chance so it is wrong to dwell her with dangerous criminals inside prison. Therefore, we ask prison authority to specialize a certain dwell for criminals by chance to prevent their interaction with dangerous criminals and to absorb their opinions and behaviors and commit crimes again.
Start initiative for social justice and human rights provide legal assistance support female prisoners in all cases freely and rehabilitates prisoners socially and psychologically so as to have a lot of hope in future and to consolidate in society after exposing to many problems or to commit crime again. The prisoner cannot earn his/ her living so the imitative presents social, legal and psychological rehabilitation in order to avoid committing crimes again. Start imitative issue I.D. for female prisoner after release.
Second example : S.G. female:
She was 38, house wife from sharkia, muslim. She has guaranteed her brothers who bought electric sets and run away. She could not do the same because she has family and children. Her relation with her husband has become worse as society considers her as previous prisoner nonetheless the crime category. She has bad vision of the future because her relation with her family has become worse since her imprisonment and society considers her criminal nonetheless the crime category. She has sacrificed her brothers who have run away and she is the only one who has paid the price. Society considers her as a criminal . Therefore Start initiative for social justice and human rights has met with creditors and paid her debts so as to prevent her imprisonment again among dangerous criminals and return again to crime.
Third example : E.M. female:
She was 37. She has got manufacturing secondary certificate. She is from sharkia, Muslim. She is executing penalty for unpaid bills. She was born in sharkia in a poor family. She was accused in many bills cases and imprisoned. She has no future for those cases and her imprisonment. Society consider her a criminal therefore Start initiative for social justice and human rights has met with creditors and paid her debts so as to prevent her imprisonment again among dangerous criminals and return again to crime.
Fourth example : E.F. female:
She is 32 years old. She has bachelor of education and she is from Bour Said, Muslim. She was imprisoned in many bills and she is still executing penalty till now.
She was born in a middle class family. She was accused in many trust bills and she is imprisoned in Bour Said public prison. She considers that she has no future. She was imprisoned in young age and she will be released soon. She is afraid of social view of her as she has spent a long time in prison. therefore Start initiative for social justice and human rights has finished her last case and presented a discharge certificate to the prison to end all her other cases and to speed up her acquittal procedures.
Fifth example : G.H. female:
She is 39 years old , house wife , Muslim from sharkia. She was accused in many bills cases and she is now in prison.
She considers that she has lost her future as her children have stopped visiting her in prison although she is not a killer. She is afraid of social view of herself. society do not consider the type of crime but it considers her imprisonment. therefore Start initiative for social justice and human rights has met with creditors and paid her debts so as to prevent her imprisonment again among dangerous criminals and return again to crime.
We ask interior ministry to classify prisoners according to their accusations and seriousness of the committed crime. If we ignore that classification, simple criminals will turn into serious criminals. Also there should be an alternative penalty of imprisonment in bills cases. There should be business men and societies to pay their debts. We require interior ministry to play that role through its employees inside prisons.
There should be legislative interference to review penal policy in Egypt in general which is applied for two centuries. There should be reforms to rehabilitate prisoners, to take care of them during imprisonment, to provide care and to consolidate them in society rapidly.
To review prisons regulations. There should be prisons for women.
To amend certain regulations about short time imprisonment and to look for alternatives as it has bad effects.
To establish care centers for women such as after care houses. To classify prisoners according to their accusations and seriousness of the committed crime. It is necessary to separate between beginners and serious criminals. Juniors and full age ones.
There should be qualified professional staff to interact with prisoners.
To change inferior view of prisoners and to assume the human rights of them.
To manage training courses for prisoners to make them know their rights. There should be social and legal aids for female prisoners.
To elevate prison living level, to provide good food, furniture,and clothes for prisoners.
To make private sweets for female prisoners inside public hospitals.
To have classification inside prisons in order to give each category the suitable punishment according to seriousness.