– The situation of political prisoners with the spread of the Coronavirus pandemic is gravely concerning, including women, who are held in Middle Eastern prisons, the Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Monitor said in a joint oral statement at the Human Rights Council’s 44th session on 17 July 2020.

Political prisoners in Egypt, Israel, the UAE and other countries in the Middle East suffer deliberate neglect, overcrowding, unsanitary conditions, lack of access to medical, and health services, Euro-Med Monitor said in its joint speech with the International Institute for Rights and Development (IRDG) during their participation in the annual panel discussion held by the HRC on technical cooperation and capacity building in implementing the Nelson Mandela Rules and the Bangkok Rules.

Presented by Rawane Matin, the speech said:

“Last week, a 74-year-old Palestinian prisoner in Israel, Saed Al-Gharabli, died of cancer after a long history of medical neglect by Israeli authorities. Last April, another 23-year-old Palestinian, Nour Al-Barghouti, died in an Israeli prison due to medical neglect.

“Similarly, in 2019, a 42-year-old Emirati woman, Alia Abdel Nour, died of cancer in prison after she had been mistreated and denied necessary medical care since her arrest in 2015.

“We fear a similar fate is awaiting tens of thousands political prisoners across the Middle East especially during the Corona pandemic, where for example, in the UAE, there have been outbreaks of Covid-19 infections in three overcrowded and unsanitary detention facilities of al-Wathba, al-Awir, and al-Barsha. In Egypt, tens of thousands of political prisoners are stockpiled on the top of each other in tight confinement, deprived of their most basic rights.

“Euro-Med Monitor and IRDG urge you to call on the governments of Israel, UAE and Egypt to release prisoners where there’s no clear legal basis for their detention, or if these governments are unable to address the inhumane and degrading conditions in which they are held in accordance with the Mandela and Bangkok rules.”