Make Yourself at Prison “Summary”
Gives some advice for citizens, especially youth, on what they can do when they get arrested, investigated in police stations or centers, or during the investigations of the Public Prosecution, their pretrial detention and finally what they can do while in custody, their needs, and how to behave.
If we agree together that prison has become a potential fate that every Egyptian can meet, either under logical or illogical grounds or even under no ground and-for sure- without any justification, hence we can agree that it is important to slightly read or hear about what is awaiting us behind its bars. Perhaps this would ease our pain a little bit.
“What the police are going to do with me? What should I do to protect myself? How to avoid saying words that might make me implicated or involved in the case? What am I going to face after arrest? What am I going to do in jail? And how can I deal with inmates? Do I have legal rights there?”. These are some of the common questions in the mind of any detainee as soon as he falls into the hands of the authorities.
We will show you some of your legal and constitutional rights, and draw you a certain itinerary or a roadmap in case you get arrested; noting that law does not necessarily explain what the authorities intend to do in practice, after they have become used to breaking the law.
The first step that leads to prison is stopping;
which is a measure conducted by those in power to investigate crimes and their perpetrators. This procedure warrants a state of necessity, meaning that the person who faces it places himself in a state of doubt and suspicion.
“Your ID”, a couple of words or an order that you could be hearing while walking in the street under reasons that are not prescribed by law, such as: wearing Al-Ahly or Al-Zamalek Club T-shirt, or the Palestine shawl/ scarf, or any other clothes that might show your affiliation to the January Revolution, or for holding a camera.
You should expect to be stopped or detained everywhere. You have also to avoid walking in street after 12:00 AM in winter and after 1:00 AM in Summer.
As for arrest or detention, you have to expect two possible scenarios:
First: To be arrested upon an arrest warrant issued by the Prosecution or court.
In this case, you could be arrested from the street or from your home. The warrant is usually handed down against you based on the detectives or National Security’s investigations. It may also be based on a report or a complaint that is filed against you by a person or a public official.
The arrest warrant could also entail searching your house.
This warrant is issued by the Prosecution. It includes the charges pressed against you and the authority mandated to carry it out, in addition to the detailed name and address of the citizen who faces it. The judicial arrest officer (the detective or the National Security officer) is also informed by a specified period during which he is assigned/ required to carry out the warrant. A new arrest warrant is to be issued in case the officer failed to implement the order in its defined period.
What should I do if a police force arrest me from home or street?
You are entitled to ask the officer about the warrant. You are also entitled to check it. If the warrant includes a search order, you should allow the officer to search the house after entering it, and it is your right to stand by him while searching it, so that you can see what he found or what he tried to put into your stuff. The officer is not entitled to search a woman unless by female police personnel.
In case the officer doesn’t show you the Prosecution’s arrest warrant, or in case he doesn’t hold it, it is important that the family members send telegraphs or reports to the Public Prosecutor, based in the High Court of Justice, Ministry of Interior at Cairo’s Fifth Settlement.
Second: To be arrested without an arrest warrant from the Public Prosecution
In this case, you can be detained under two different reasons:
The first one: to be arrested or caught “in flagrante delicto”; to be kidnapped from a demonstration or a strike. Here you have to know that what you did is not a crime, nonetheless, you have to deny doing it. Why?
Because other things (charges)- which you didn’t do- may be trumped up against you by linking them with the things you were doing. For example, if you admit you were participating in a protest, you may find yourself stand accused of vandalizing properties, bearing or insulting police forces, and since you are admitting you were in the protest, you will be facing the rest of the charges.
The second one: to be arrested amid a random arrest campaign. This kind of arrests are usually carried out before or after an expected protest event, or a mass arrest campaign in a specific area that is close to a symbolic place such as “Al-Tahrir Square”.
What are your rights?
– You are entitled to be informed with the charges leveled against you.
– You are entitled not to be subject to any kind of physical insult
– You are entitled not to be forced by anyone to sign any paper or be filmed in possession with something or while saying something you don’t want to
The detectives (investigative authority) detention or “the refrigerator”:
After arrest, you will be taken to a police station, and then you will be setting in the “refrigerator”;
which is a narrow room in the second floor of every police station. It can be located in an isolated place inside the police station, and it is often unfurnished and has no windows.
In the meantime, an arrest record/ communique is filed mentioning your accusation, the place of your arrest, and the things found in your possession (exhibits). Note that every single measure is carried out based on the directives issued, which means that you could/ or could not have a record based on directives from the National Security. Thereafter, the record is to be reviewed by the Detective Chief- if not he is not the one who initially made it. At night, in usual cases, you might be released or be questioned by the investigative/ detective officers. So, if you are under great pressure and was forced to speak out of fear, at least do not sign any paper or document. You have to always ask for a lawyer. Detective officers are also not entitled to interrogate you “Q & A Investigations”. Thereafter, you will be held at the police station’s jail.
This jail is in the ground floor of the police station, and it is affiliated with its warden or head/ chief, which means that your life, safety and prison conditions is under the responsibility of the police station’s head. You have the right to meet the warden. Your family and lawyers have the right to file any certain reports or suspicions with regard to your prison conditions. You are only dealing with service officers not detective or investigative ones, expect in the jail searching, which is carried out by detective officers. Entering this jail means that you will be appearing before the Prosecution the day after in the morning.
Public Prosecution investigation
After entering the police jail, you will appear before the Prosecution the next day. How the investigations go?
The first thing law imposes on the Public Prosecutor is to ask you whether you have a lawyer to defend you or not. You are entitled to contact a lawyer to attend the investigation with you. You are also entitled to demand postponing the investigation session until your lawyer arrives.
The second thing: the Prosecution has to inform you with the charges pressed against you alongside their penalty. After denying or admitting the charges, the Prosecution will start to question you in detail about these charges and the conditions of your arrest.
Before the Prosecution, you are entitled to:
First: To be informed with all the charges leveled against you and how they are punishable with, as well as the authority/ body that carries out the interrogation
Second: To accompany your lawyers to be attending all the investigation proceedings
Third: To write any demands you want to raise in the investigation session’s record
Fourth: To remain silent and not answer any question. You have the right to refuse to answer certain questions in case you don’t understand them or feel that the prosecutor “is not neutral” or want to implicate you. You can then answer with “I refuse to answer this question”, and the prosecutor is not entitled to comment on your response.
Thereafter, the Prosecution has to issue a decision either to release you or imprison you pending the investigation, and in all cases, you will be returned back to the police station. If you are ordered to be released, you will be going back to the police or detention jail awaiting for the finishing of all the release procedures, and to check whether you are included into another case. Owing to the illegal National Security’s instructions, your actual release (to be out of prison) might be delayed, and this is to keep you suffering for days before appearing before the National Security officer’s investigation, after which you will released out of prison.
In case the Prosecution ordered your imprisonment, you will be returned back to one of the prison’s wards, one that is very small and crammed with prisoners, but it is somehow better than the police jail, as it is arranged for long stays.
In prison, every thing changes. You can sleep whenever you want but you cannot wake up under your own will. You are pulled out of your bed by the voice calling for obeying the chain of command. Your “glasses “through which you can see the world is the opening of the ward’s door that does not exceed the size of a book.
Closing the “glasses”- one of the political propaganda means- has an implication; either a group of unfortunate people awaiting for a punishment of severe beating, or that it marks an inspection of a cell that might be yours. It is better then to fear the “inspection disturbance”.
List of prisoners’ needs:
Personal hygiene tools:
Soap, toothbrush and toothpaste, one plastic shaver on each visit, Dettol Antibacterial soap, a towel.
Anti-Itch ointment, Flagyl, Antinal, colic and flu remedies, Savonet / Liquidsoap
Blankets and mattress
Grey blanket, bed sheet and pillow bag preferably white color, Covert.
For those held in pretrial detention:
White training suit, slipper “preferably white plastic”, white underwear, white long Sleeve Vanilla and pant
For those sentenced to prison upon a court order
Blue training suit, slipper “preferably blue plastic”, white underwear, white long Sleeve Vanilla and pant
Canned foods wrapped in paper or plastic, white cheese, honey, jam, sesame paste, tuna in plastic jars, old cheese with plastic jars, fruit, orange, lemon, pomegranate, etc.”
Cigarettes are the prison currency, and whether you are a smoker or a non-smoker. They are the only way for bartering, having access to services or meeting your needs.