Foreign diplomats, media, MPs inspect Egypt’s Wadi Al-Natroun Rehabilitation Centre

Amr Kandil , Thursday 28 Oct 2021

Egypt’s Ministry of Interior organised on Thursday a tour for a number of diplomatic missions, international organisations, and foreign media correspondents at the newly constructed Wadi Al-Natroun Correctional and Rehabilitation Centre.

Correctional and Rehabilitation Centre
ِِA still image of Wadi El-Natroon Correctional and Rehabilitation Centre. Photo courtesy of Egyptian interior ministry Facebook page.

Representatives of human rights councils and human rights committees in the House of Representatives and Senate also participated in the tour, a statement by the ministry on Thursday said.

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, said a video published by the ministry.

The Wadi Al-Natroun Centre performed a “comprehensive evaluation to the psychological aspects of inmates with the aim of creating an appropriate environment to correct their course and address the causes of their crimes,” the ministry added in the video.

The new 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.

The step is a real move towards a modern punitive policy that depends on top-notch technologies as well as specialised reform and rehabilitation programmes, the ministry added.

Jail terms should not be "limited to punishment only, but also include rehabilitation and learning of correct behaviour," the statement stressed.

It stated that 12 prisons — representing 25 percent of the total prisons in Egypt — would be closed after the centre formally begins its operation.

According to the ministry, other similar centres will be established to replace the more traditional prisons of older days.

In September, President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi said Egypt is preparing to inaugurate the largest prison complex in the country, comprising eight prisons, in Wadi Al-Natroun within weeks.

He added that it is one of seven or eight American-style complexes that Egypt will establish.

In remarks to the media, El-Sisi said that prisoners inside the complex would serve their sentence in a “humane way … with health, humanitarian, and cultural care.”

According to the ministry, the new centre comprises six sub-centres that provide renewable ventilation throughout the day and natural lighting to prisoners.

The inmates ward in the centre will include TV screens that display cultural, sports, entertainment, and rehabilitation programmes.

The centre has also established areas for prisoners to perform their prayers, accommodations for disabled people, rehabilitation workshops, dining halls, and a room for pretrial detention renewal.

It also includes a library, educational classrooms, places for handicrafts, playgrounds, and waiting areas covered with solar cells for guests.

The centre embraces a court complex with eight courtrooms where inmates can attend their trial instead of being transferred to outer courts.

The ministry also constructed technical, industrial, and agricultural education schools in the centre in cooperation with the education ministry.

Also, the ministry established vocational training centres in cooperation with the housing ministry. As part of this cooperation, the authorities established plumbing, blacksmithing, electrical, painting, and solar energy workshops.

The centre also comprises a special centre for women and a nursery that enables female inmates to keep their babies throughout their lactation periods.

Additionally, the ministry established a central hospital inside the centre equipped with the latest equipment and technologies and provided with well-trained medical staff and proficient doctors, the video said.

Moreover, the hospital holds 300 beds, 28 ICU beds, four operation rooms, and isolation and emergency rooms.

This is in addition to a central pharmacy, laboratories, a dialysis unit, specialised clinics, and a counseling centre for AIDS and addiction patients.

The UN Office on Drugs and Crime will supervise the counseling centre through a medical cooperation protocol with the ministry.

Furthermore, the Wadi Al-Natroun Centre’s rehabilitation area includes agricultural areas, greenhouses, and areas for livestock and poultry to graze.

Additionally, the centre has an industrial zone that includes a metal furniture factory and wood factory.

“The rehabilitation of inmates and preparing them for reintegration into society after serving their sentences starts by fostering a feeling of being productive individuals who contribute to a valuable job,” the ministry said in the video.

The ministry added that these jobs provide an income to help them after they are released.

Today’s tour at the centre comes a month after El-Sisi launched the National Strategy for Human Rights, the first comprehensive and long-term homegrown-strategy in the human rights field in Egypt with the attendance of representatives of human rights and civil society groups.

The strategy will run until 2026 and address civilian and political rights; economic, social, and cultural rights; the rights of marginalised groups, such as women, children, disabled people, youths, and the elderly; and education and capacity building in the human rights field.

**This story was updated on 30 October 2021

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