October 2021

Learn About the Correctional and Rehabilitation Complex in Wadi El Natroun... A Model of Integrated Commitment to the Rights of Inmates

On October 28, 2021, the Ministry of Interior organized a visit with a number of human rights activists, media professionals, diplomats and judicial bodies to the Correctional Rehabilitation Center in Wadi El-Natroun. This comes on the occasion of the start of the pilot launch of the center, which was established in accordance with the highest international human rights standards and in line with the National Human Rights Strategy.

Foreign media correspondents and representatives of the Egyptian media, diplomatic missions, international organizations, human rights councils, and the human rights committees of the House of Representatives and the Senate participated in the visit.

During the visit, the Assistant Minister of Interior for the Community Protection Sector said that the Ministry of Interior’s strategy in managing punitive and correctional institutions is based on the pillars of the modern punitive philosophy, which is based on transforming traditional places of detention into exemplary places for the rehabilitation of inmates based on the right of those sentenced not to be punished for their crimes twice, affecting also their families. This is a realistic translation of the recently launched National Human Rights Strategy.

The Assistant Minister stated that the rehabilitation plans include integrated programs in which a number of specialists in various fields of social sciences and mental health participate. They include interest in education, correcting concepts and ideas, controlling behaviors, deepening values and ethics, in order to immunize the inmate from deviation again and protect his community from any potential criminal danger that was controlling his behavior.

He added that social care programs extend to the families of the inmates during their sentence. This is through the Aftercare Department, which also follows up on the conditions of the convicts after their release. Within the framework of the Ministry’s efforts to encourage inmates to correct their behavior, the conditional and health-related releases are expanded in accordance with the legal provisions, controls and standards that regulate their release.

The number of those released in that respect reached 11,298 during 2021, in addition to the Presidential pardon for an unprecedented number of those serving sentences for various reasons; this year reached (20516), which opens the horizons of hope for them in a new and dignified life.

The Assistant Minister of Interior continued by stating: “The international community is currently paying special attention to improving the conditions of detainees as one of the important aspects of human rights, and the political leadership has taken the lead in this regard by directing the establishment of complex centers that meet all the aspects that observe the highest standards of human rights and are scientifically managed to reform behavior and the misconceptions of those convicted according to the nature of the violations they committed and their rehabilitation to become good people who benefit their families and society”.

He also pointed out that the Ministry of Interior has developed a strategy for the construction of these centers outside the populated areas as an alternative to the current public prisons. The Ministry's first operational steps in this regard have begun with the establishment of the Wadi-al-Natroun Correctional and Rehabilitation Center, which, after its full launch, will close 12 prisons, representing 25% of the total number of public prisons in Egypt, which are: Appellate of Cairo, Liman Tora, Cairo Tora, Benha, Alexandria, Public Tanta, Mansoura, Shebin El-Kom, Zagazig, Old Damanhour, Beheira labor camp, public Minya, which will lead to the State’s general budget not bearing any burdens for the establishment and management of correctional and rehabilitation centers in light of the fact that the investment value of lands of public prisons, that will be closed, exceeds the cost of establishing these centers.

The Assistant Minister explained that as a continuation of the Ministry’s efforts to contribute to facilitating litigation procedures for inmates, a court complex was established in Wadi El Natroun Center in accordance with judicial conditions and requisites; as well as rooms equipped to present detainees in pretrial detention to the concerned judicial authorities via video conference technology. This removes the hardship of inmates moving to the various courts and prosecutions.

The Assistant Minister of Interior stated that, in order to provide the requisites for the rehabilitation of inmates, the Ministry is extensively coordinating with the relevant ministries. The latest of these efforts was the conclusion of a cooperation protocol with the Ministry of Education and Technical Education under which the two secondary schools (industrial and agricultural) that were opened at the Center shall operate. In addition, the Ministry’s efforts include coordination with the Ministry of Housing, Utilities and Urban Communities to prepare places for training and rehabilitation in various technical professions, within the framework of scientific programs based on directing the inmate’s energy to the profession for which he is suitable. The coordination aims to also provide inmates with job opportunities during the penalty period with a financial return that is directed according to his needs and keeping part of it as a reward granted to the inmate at the time of his release to help him meet his needs.

He added that within the framework of achieving this goal, the Ministry of Interior established a number of industrial, agricultural and animal production projects inside the Center, which also reflects positively on the volume of expenditure incurred by the State in managing correctional and rehabilitation centers. This is through the achievement of self-sufficiency in their needs of some basic products as well as contributing to meeting the needs of citizens at reduced prices in light of the solidarity role of the Ministry of Interior.

He explained that in order to consolidate the values and principles of human rights and that the terminologies correspond to the reality of modern punitive implementation policies, the Ministry submitted a draft law to amend some provisions of the Prisons Law and related laws to transform prisons into “centers for reform and community rehabilitation” and to amend the name of the Prison Sector to become the “Community Protection Sector” to reflect the great development that is currently taking place in the work mechanisms of the sector.

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A visit to the media and human rights defenders in Wadi El-Natrun