Egypt’s judiciary announces review into notorious Scorpion prison

Egypt’s judiciary has decided to review one of the country’s most notorious prisons, according to the Associated Press.

The 12-page document indicates that the State Commissioners’ Committee reportedly ordered Cairo University to put together a team of medical and human rights specialists in order to assess whether the infamous “Scorpion” prison is suitable to hold prisoners.

The Scorpion prison, linked with the Tora prison complex in Cairo, has become notorious for being one of the main jails where political prisoners are often sent and where abuse has become prevalent.

According to the document, the interior ministry declined to provide prison records of visits by prisoners’ families and other documents that show how the prison was constructed and furnished.

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Once the proposed evaluation is complete, officials will deliver a nonbinding verdict on whether the prison is fit for human habitation. The move is believed to be in response to a complaint by one of the prisoners’ families and continued calls by NGOs urging the government to shut down the prison.

According to rights lawyer Doaa Moustafa, the move was “a positive step in order to ease the dire conditions” inside the prison. However, prison authorities were still filling the prison with more prisoners in overcrowded cells and cutting off access to families and lawyers and blocking medical treatment.

Human rights groups have accused Egyptian authorities of regularly torturing prisoners and detaining suspected activists or Islamists without reporting their arrests as well holding mass trials for hundreds of political prisoners.

The government has however denied systemic torture with President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi denying last month there were any political prisoners in the country.