Amnesty International called on the Egyptian authorities to reduce the number of prisoners, especially children and activists, and demanded that the most vulnerable prisoners be protected, amid growing fears of an outbreak of the Corona epidemic within overcrowded Egyptian prisons.

The organization said in a statement that the Egyptian authorities are holding thousands of people in prolonged pretrial detention, for more than a period of two years established by Egyptian law.

The statement stressed that the conditions in many Egyptian prisons are inhuman, due to overcrowding and the lack of adequate ventilation, or clean water or cleaning materials.

The organization said that these unsanitary conditions, and the impossibility of applying physical spacing, increase the odds of developing the new Corona virus.

The statement indicated that between 14 and 25 April, the Egyptian authorities pardoned more than 4,000 prisoners. However, she emphasized that in practice this excluded a large number of prisoners who were unlawfully imprisoned, including human rights defenders and held in prolonged pretrial detention.

Amnesty International's appeal is the latest in a series of regional and international human rights calls and popular campaigns calling for the release of prisoners in Egypt for fear of a corona epidemic within prisons and places of detention.


In early April, the United Nations called on the Egyptian authorities to release "those convicted of crimes other than violence" and those in pretrial detention, to prevent them from contracting the virus.

The spokesperson for the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Robert Colville, recommended that the Egyptian authorities imitate other countries that have organized new regulations in prisons because of the threat of the Coronavirus.

"We are very concerned about the risk of the rapid spread of the Corona virus among more than 114,000 people in Egyptian prisons," Colville said, adding that "among those we recommend the release of administrative detainees and those held arbitrarily because of their political or human rights work."

In March, Egyptian activists broadcast a leaked message from Scorpion Prison, revealing the spread of Corona's epidemic within the prison, which lacks the most basic necessities of life, and confirming that the prison administration ignored the prisoners' calls to expedite their treatment and release.

Jurists and observers say that the Egyptian regime does not ignore these calls, but rather tightens its security grip and launches arrest campaigns in several governorates.

In general, Amnesty International today called for the immediate and unconditional release of all women prisoners of conscience in the world.

She said that these prisoners are in prison only because they wanted to exercise their right to freedom of expression in a peaceful manner and did not commit crimes.

She stressed the dangers of prisons turning into hotbeds of the epidemic, and called on governments to shoulder their responsibility to protect prisoners.