Egyptian President Announces New Prison Complex

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi announced on Wednesday that Cairo would inaugurate a large prison complex within weeks, state-owned news agency Egypt Today reveals.

In a phone call with TV anchor, Youssef El-Husseini during the ‘Al-Tasea’ talk show on the government-owned Channel one, El- Sisi affirmed that Egypt plans to inaugurate what he describes as “a humane” prison system. He added that the complex is expected to include 8 prisons in Wadi El-Natrun, 100 km (62 miles) away from Cairo.

“We are bringing out a full American version. Prisoners in the complex will serve their sentences in a humane way [when it comes to their] movement, health care, and humanitarian, cultural and reform,” he said.

“There will not be much transfer as they will not be transported via prisoner transport vehicles,” he continued.

Earlier this week, the Egyptian President announced Egypt’s Human Rights Strategy for the upcoming 5 years. In a televised address, he stressed Egypt’s respect for religious diversity and hailed the role of civil society in enhancing and protecting human rights at the political, social, and economic levels.

The 100-page document stipulates a set of government commitments, including wide job opportunities, better access to health care and education, among others.

According to governmental and civil-society sources, the document reveals a commitment to improving political rights as well.

Chair of the Egyptian Organization for Human Rights Essam Shiha said the state was offering a comprehensive overview of different types of rights in the new strategy, including “the socio-economic rights that are the priority of the people and the political rights that have been heavily lobbied for by human rights organizations in Egypt.”

The authorities have accommodated a good part of the ideas that civil society has introduced on political rights,” Shiha said. “But there is the context as well, which among other things includes the majority wish of the people to have stability and security,” he added.

These developments came amid concerns about the human rights situation in Egypt, which are manifested in Biden’s administration decision to withhold $1390 million worth of military assistance to Cairo, releasing the funds when Egypt better tackles the human rights issue.

The State Department spokesperson said in an emailed statement: “We are continuing to discuss our serious concerns about human rights in Egypt”.

Blinken “will move forward with the use of $130 million if the Government of Egypt affirmatively addresses specific human-rights related conditions,” the statement added.

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