International Community Must Act to Save Former President Morsi’s Life and Thousands of other Egyptian Prisoners
The undersigned organizations strongly condemn the systematic and severe maltreatment of former Egyptian president, Dr. Mohamed Morsi, who was arrested on July 3, 2013 after a three-day mass protest against him followed by a military coup led by current president Abdel Fattah al-Sisi. We call on the Egyptian government authorities to uphold Mr. Morsi’s fundamental rights to a fair trial, due process, and humane treatment, while ending retaliation and abuse against him, which could amount to torture and causing a slow death.
Mr. Morsi’s case is not an exception but rather an exemplar of the heinous treatment of inmates representing a wide array of political orientations in Egypt’s prisons, including Islamists and secularists alike, particularly after the 2013 coup. In contrast to the first-rate treatment received by former president Hosni Mubarak and his aides in prisons and hospitals during their trials, Mr. Morsi, age 66, continues to face harsh retaliatory measures ever since he was detained at the Republican Guard headquarters on July 3, 2013 under the watch of the current minister of defense.
The fact that Mr. Morsi was a former, duly elected head of state did not prevent him – similar to thousands of others representing diverse political orientations or no political orientation at all- from being disappeared for four months with no contact with his family or the outside world. During his trial, Mr. Morsi was confined to a soundproof glass cage rendering him unable to communicate with his attorney or the judge. His attorney withdrew from the trial in protest. Mr. Morsi was then placed in solitary confinement for three years in the Tora prison complex, where he was denied new clothes, personal hygiene products, and books and newspapers. According to his family, they were only permitted to visit him twice - in 2013 and in 2017 – forcing them to file suit in the Administrative Court for visitation rights. The court is expected to issue its judgment on July 9.
As Mr. Morsi remains isolated in solitary confinement, he suffers from critical health complications caused by deplorable prison conditions and the prison authorities’ denial of medical treatment for his chronic diabetes, according to his family. These complications include severely compromised vision in his left eye, mouth and dental sores, and the risk of diabetic coma. He also suffers from severe inflammatory rheumatism in his spine and neck as a result of being forced to sleep on the floor. His family fears the onset of chronic liver and kidney disease due to poor nutrition and the denial of the diet required by his health. Although the court accepted Mr. Morsi’s petition in 2015 for medical treatment, he has still not seen a doctor. On November 29, 2017, his family notified the court panel of the medical neglect of Mr. Morsi, but to no avail.
The use of Egypt’s prisons to abuse political opponents such as Mr. Morsi, in a way that threatens their lives or renders their deaths inevitable, occurs with the full knowledge of the Public Prosecution, several judicial agencies, the governmental National Council for Human Rights, the Parliament, the Interior Ministry, and the President himself. We therefore hold all these parties morally, politically, and criminally culpable for the critical condition of Mr. Morsi and the deaths of an estimated 650 other prisoners since mid-2013 as a result of the criminal practices prevalent in Egyptian prisons, including torture, medical neglect, and maltreatment.
The undersigned organizations call for the dire situation of Mr. Morsi and thousands of other political prisoners to be immediately rectified. We further demand that independent Egyptian and international rights organizations, as well as the International Committee of the Red Cross, be allowed to visit Mr. Morsi and investigate prison conditions in Egypt. We appeal to the United Nations Secretary General, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and state leaders around the world, particularly those who met with former president Morsi, to urge the Egyptian government to treat its former president and all its citizens humanely by respecting their fundamental human rights within and outside of its prisons, in adherence with Egypt’s international obligations and constitution.
- The Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies (CIHRS)
- Nadeem Center
- Adalah Center for Rights and Freedoms (ACRF)
- The Freedom Initiative
- Committee for Justice
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