February 05, 2021
We, the undersigned organizations, express our most profound concern over the severe deterioration of the health of Abeer Najed, a 47-year-old woman who has been detained since September 2018. During a visit by her family on Wednesday, January 13, 2021, in Al-Qanater women's prison, her relatives noted that her face seemed to show swelling and that she was unable to walk without assistance.
In early January, Abeer, who was already suffering from an allergy on her chest, began to feel COVID-19 symptoms, including fever and shortness of breath, followed by the inability to taste or smell, as well as complete lethargy in her body.
However, the prison doctor only diagnosed her condition as an infection in the lining of the lung without taking a swab to do a coronavirus analysis. As a result of the medication he prescribed, which was not adapted, her health deteriorated further.
After Abeer complained and requested to be provided with appropriate medical care, the head of prison security ordered her transfer from the political ward of the prison to the criminal one, without allowing her to take her clothes and personal belongings. Due to the constant smoking of cigarettes in the wing, her health deteriorated further.
In light of the above, we believe the life of Abeer Najed to be in grave danger. In addition, the fact that the prison authorities did not conduct a coronavirus test in the first place when they should have and that she was not provided with appropriate medical treatment and put under quarantine creates a heightened risk of propagation of the virus inside the prison.
Accordingly, the undersigned organizations urge the Egyptian authorities to:
Immediately transfer Abeer to a hospital capable of handling her condition until recovery is complete.
Request the prompt intervention of the Public Prosecutor, the National Council for Human Rights, and the National Council for Women to review Abeer's detention, as she continues to be held in pretrial detention – despite exceeding its maximum duration – in connection with Case. 277 of 2019 before the Supreme State Security Court.
Uphold prisoners' right to health, including by allowing access to COVID-19 testing and treatment and by granting full access to medical care as required.
Reduce their prison population by ordering the release of “low-risk” detainees and those particularly vulnerable to the virus, including Abeer.
Democracy for the Arab World Now (DAWN)
MENA Rights Group