Egypt's Wadi El-Natroun centre perfect model for penal institutions: NCHR

Ahram Online , Sunday 27 Feb 2022

Egypt's newly constructed Wadi Al-Natroun Correctional and Rehabilitation Centre is a perfect model for the country’s penal institutions, read a statement by the country's National Council for Human Rights (NCHR) on Saturday.

Inmates at the new Wadi Al-Natroun Rehabilitation Centre (Photo courtesy of Egyptian interior ministry)

Following an eight-hour inspection tour of the centre made by an NCHR delegation, it said that the complex’s new features are in line with the basic principles for the humane treatment of prisoners and their rights.

The tour, the first by the NCHR since its reconstitution in December 2021, aimed to conduct a preliminary assessment of the practices inside the centre as well as its infrastructure and equipment nearly after four months in operation, the statement added.

The tour also included members from human rights committees in the House of Representatives and Senate.

The visit mainly aimed to learn more about the new plan in place to develop penal institutions, prisons and places of detention to bring them in line with human rights standards and rules.

The statement added that the complex possesses all infrastructure needed for implementing the basic principles for the humane treatment of prisoners and showing respect for their rights.

This is showcased through the spaces designated for visitors' entry, in addition to visiting halls, residence halls, health and rehabilitation facilities and cafeterias.

The centre, through a package of training facilities and programmes organised at a high level of professionalism, enjoys adequate capabilities to rehabilitate prisoners and prepare them for reintegration into society

The statement added that the complex accommodates up to 7,000 prisoners with enough space for nearly twice that number in nescessary, pointing out that building the centre has contributed to emptying three old prisons.

The NCHR stressed the importance of finalising the ministry's plan to replace old prisons with new rehabilitation centres.

The council said the ministry has condensed its plan to complete the establishment of two or three centres by the end of this year. This will contribute to reducing to a minimum the number of complaints related to the prisoners' living conditions, and fulfilling one of the commitments of the recently issued National Human Rights Strategy, it added.

In September 2021, President El-Sisi launched the National Strategy for Human Rights, the first comprehensive and long-term homegrown strategy for human rights in Egypt.

The NCHR's statement also praised the interior ministry for fully vaccinating 100 percent of inmates in prisons and detention centres to confront the coronavirus pandemic, in addition to embarking on administrating booster shots.

The Wadi Al-Natroun Centre ended the suffering of inmates' families who previously had to wait in poorly equipped facilities, according to previous complaints received by the NCHR, the statement added. The council also called on the interior ministry to construct a pedestrian bridge over the desert road to facilitate the movement of the inmates’ families.

The statement also called the ministry to set "institutional procedures" to ensure the sustainability of the quality of the existing facilities and the systems adopted in the Wadi El-Natroun centre and other centres that are under construction.

The new centre is one of the largest rehabilitation and reformation centres worldwide and is managed based on international standards of human rights and modern technology, according to a previous statement by the interior ministry.

The correctional facility aims to give prisoners a second chance by respecting their rights, providing means to reform their behaviour and helping them to engage productively in society.

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