CAIRO: A top judicial agency in Egypt has agreed to review one of the most notorious prisons in the country, according to a document obtained by the Associated Press.
The 12-page document shows the State Commissioners’ Committee ordered Cairo University to create a team of medical and human rights specialists to assess whether the infamous “Scorpion” prison is suitable to house inmates.
The unit is a wing of the Tora prison complex in Cairo.
The document said that the Interior Ministry, which is in charge of the police, declined to provide prison records of visits by prisoners’ families and other documents that show how the prison was constructed and furnished.
Once the evaluation is completed, officials will deliver a nonbinding verdict on whether the prison is fit for human habitation.
The move is in response to a complaint by prisoners’ families and NGOs urging the government to close the prison. The Interior Ministry spokesman did not immediately answer calls for comment.
Rights lawyer Doaa Moustafa said the move was “a positive step in order to ease the dire conditions” inside the prison.
However, she said prison authorities were still cramming prisoners into packed cells, cutting off access to families and lawyers, and blocking medical treatment.
Human rights groups have accused Egyptian police of regularly torturing detainees and of detaining suspected activists or Islamists without reporting their arrests. The government has denied systemic torture, saying there have only been isolated cases.