The prison’s location:
Port Said General Prison is located in East Port Said within a crowded residential neighborhood; at Al-Sabah Street, off Mohamed Ali Street which is so close to the Faculty of Tarbiyah, Port Said University.
Date of establishment:
The prison was established at the end of the thirties of the twentieth century, during the British occupation. Its area is estimated at 21,000 meters and includes two large sections (one for men and the other for women), each consists of 4 floors, in addition to the prison administration’s building, which is considered one of the general prisons.
Port Said General Prison doesn’t have indoor bathrooms; since it is considered one of the old and ancient prisons.
The prison’s capacity is 1600 inmates including both criminal and political prisoners. It also receives a number of pretrial detainees. However, according to some testimonies, the prison is holding more than 2000 inmates.
The prison includes a hospital, a library and a furniture-making workshop.
But it doesn’t have toilets in many of its cells, and the toilets located outside the cells do not have doors, but only a curtain.
As a result of the increase in housing and residential movement around the prison and its vicinity, it was decided to transfer the prison outside the city’s cordon, but the implementation of the decision was postponed for years owing to the incidents that Egypt and Port Said have witnessed since the January Revolution and the successive circumstances.
The prison witnessed two riot incidents; one immediately after January Revolution 2011 and the other incident took place on 26 January 2013, when the court ruled to send the papers of a number of defendants to the Grand Mufti in connection with the case of ” Port Said Stadium massacre”. Consequently, a number of people headed to Port Said Prison to demonstrate in front of the prison which resulted in clashes between them and the security personnel, which left about 40 people, including two members of the security forces, dead and nearly 70 people injured. Thereafter, the prison was associated with the case known in the media as “The raid on Port Said Prison” in which 20 defendants were sentenced to 25 years in prison (life imprisonment), 12 defendants to 10 years in high-security prison and 18 others to 5 years in high-security prison, on charges pertaining to: committing violence and riot incidents that took place in Port Said governorate in January 2013 and attempting to break into Port Said General Prison.
The prison’s transfer… hasn’t occurred yet
Residents of “Masaken Al-Segn” or “the prison’s dwellings”, which is the residential area surrounding the prison, are increasingly concerned about the delay in fulfilling their demand to move the prison from the entire region; as it was supposed that prison would be transferred to another place during the reign of Minister of Interior Habib Al-Adly. But the move didn’t occur because it would cost a lot to construct a new building to replace the prison until a decision was issued in the year 2016 to allocate 15 acres for the construction of a new general prison in “Qantara East” outside the residential framework, but the plan wasn’t implemented, as well, due to unknown reasons.
Testimonies of violations
Based on a detention renewal session convened on 15 October 2019 in which “Port Said detainees” are accused in connection with Case No. 1338 of 2019 State Security, the biggest case in Egypt’s history…
In the case’s first detention renewal session, lawyers waited for the defendants from the early morning but they didn’t come. The defense lawyers remained standing in the hallway of the Zeinhom Court until 10 pm, when they saw the security forces were rushing to evacuate the court building from the detainees’ families. Thereafter, they found 100 defendants going up the court’s stairs, barefoot, handcuffed with chains in one row as prisoners of war with bruises on their faces. Once they reached the competent floor to consider their detention before the Deputy Public Prosecutor, and before they entered the room, lawyers tried to check that they are okay and find out what happened to them, but the Port Said prison guards prevented the lawyers from speaking to their clients or even standing with them. As a result, the matter ended with skirmishes between the lawyers and the court’s guards until the prosecutor ordered the defendants to appear before him collectively, in violation of fair trial standards. While appearing before the prosecutor, we heard from the defendants the following:
- I beg you sir. Don’t let us go back to prison. Every day, they come to us to beat us with belts and sticks and punch us. Our whole bodies are full of bruises and signs of beatings.
- We haven’t had shower nor changed our clothes for 25 days. We cannot sleep from itching and the pain of beatings and hunger.
- I haven’t eaten anything for 3 days. I’m hungry and I don’t know anything about my family. They beat us because we’re from Suez (governorate). Please sir I beg you, get us out of here.
- My mother is downstairs. I saw her while they were getting me here. Please let me see her. I want to reassure her since there are no visits for us.
- For God’s sake, don’t bring us back to prison. They told us if we speak up or open our mouths, they will beat us to death.
- I cannot stand on my feet right now. I was beaten with sticks on my feet for two hours until I lost consciousness. They come to us at night and hit us with sticks, hoses and waterfalls. We are heavily tortured and deprived of water and food. I cannot stand on my leg and I am hungry. I beg you; don’t let us back to prison. Release us please. Our families haven’t heard from us till now.
– Lawyers took permission from the prosecutor to bring some food from outside prison and give it to the defendants, which the court guards and their officers’ refuse with utmost cruelty. The Deputy Prosecutor accepted the lawyers’ request and let the food in, amid rejection from the prison guards who reacted with a frowning face; it seems that they have strict instructions. Once the detainees saw the food, they rushed to take it, although it was insufficient as only a few of them had enough of it and the rest of them remained hungry in their jails.
– The defense lawyers asked the Public Prosecution to prove what the defendants said in the record of the detention renewal session, question them as victims and transfer them to forensic medicine, but the Public Prosecution refused. The deputy prosecutor said “This is not my role; I am considering detention renewals only”.
– The mass detention renewal session came to an end. The detainees were once again handcuffed with chains and were brought back to Port Said Prison.
– On the next day of the detention renewal session, the families tried to visit their relatives in Port Said Prison, but that attempt was unsuccessful and only a few of them succeeded in bringing food to their detained relatives.
– The cruel treatment of detainees stopped but the visit ban continued; as they told detainees “We will allow visitation when the marks on your bodies fade away”.
– The families tried to see their relatives in the successive detention renewal sessions in Cairo’s Zeinhom Court building; as they headed there carrying food, medicines, clean clothes and detergents in the hope that they would be able to give them to their detained relatives. But these attempts always fail, as the prison guards were working to expel the people from the court building before the defendants came up.