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article imageAmnesty slams Egypt 'ban' on families visiting prisoners

By AFP     Feb 15, 2019 in World

Rights group Amnesty International on Friday slammed a "ban" it said Egyptian authorities have imposed on family visits to scores of detainees.

President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi has regularly been accused by rights groups of repressing opponents.

At least 60,000 have been detained in a crackdown since Sisi took power after leading the military ouster of president Mohamed Morsi in 2013, according to another campaign group, Human Rights Watch.

Amnesty said it had obtained "an official document which confirms there is an open-ended ban on family visits in a number of sections at two major prison complexes in Cairo and Alexandria".

"These sections are known to house people being held in pre-trial detention and prisoners convicted for expressing their political opinions or otherwise exercising their right to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly," Amnesty said in a statement.

The number of prisoners affected at the Tora prison in Cairo and the Borg al-Arab in Alexandria was "not clear", it added.

"The Egyptian prison authorities must urgently lift the cruel and punitive restrictions on family visits," said Najia Bounaim, Amnesty's campaign director for North Africa.

Amnesty said human rights lawyer Mohamed Ramadan, political activist Shady al-Ghazali and satirist Shady Abu Zeid are among those recently denied family visits.

Former president Morsi "has only been allowed three visits since he was first detained more than five years ago", it said.

Egyptian authorities were not immediately available for comment.

Human rights groups have regularly criticised Sisi's government for cracking down on secular and left-wing activists, as well as the Islamist supporters of Morsi's banned Muslim Brotherhood group.

Activists have been increasingly detained in Egypt in recent months.

Authorities insist that such measures are needed to maintain stability and counter jihadism in the country.

Sisi has repeatedly claimed there are no "political prisoners" in Egypt.

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