On 10 March 2020, the Egyptian authorities suspended all prison visits as a measure to prevent the spread of COVID-19. The authorities failed to introduce regular alternative means of communications between detainees and their families and lawyers such as bi-monthly phones calls like prescribed by Egyptian law.
On 16 April 2020, Al-Qanater women’s prison authorities prevented Solafa Magdy’s mother from sending her money, food and sanitizers while most other inmates have been allowed to receive such items since 12 April. Some, but not all inmates, have been able to send and receive written correspondence.
Solafa’s family was concerned that Solafa was facing disciplinary measures, as prison authorities prevent detainees held in disciplinary cells from receiving visits and packages from their families. On 29 April 2020, her family was finally allowed to send her food and cleaning products but remain concerned about her safety as they have received no letters from her.
Journalists Hossam el-Sayed and Mohamed Salah, detained at Tora Investigations prison, have been receiving essential items sent by their families weekly since 12 April. They were also able to receive but not send letters.
Amnesty International considers Solafa, Hossam and Mohamed to be prisoners of conscience detained solely for carrying out their legitimate work as journalists and for defending victims of human rights violations.
I therefore ask you to immediately and unconditionally release Solafa, Hossam and Mohamed. I call on you to also ensure that - pending their release – they are provided with means to regularly communicate with their families and lawyers. I finally urge the Egyptian authorities to immediately and unconditionally release all those detained solely for carrying out their journalistic work and for peacefully expressing their opinions and take measures to protect the health of all prisoners amid the COVID-19 pandemic.