Egypt: a physician, committed to helping prisoners, imprisoned himself

TAHER MOKHTAR, a 32 year-old Egyptian medical doctor, was arrested on 14 January 2014 at his home in Cairo. He was given no explanation for the arrest. Dr. Mokhtar is a human rights activist and advocate for improving medical care for prisoners. At that time, he was working as an intern at the El-Nadeem center, a rehabilitation facility for victims of violence and torture, founded in 1993 but shut down last February by the Egyptian government. After being interrogated for several hours by security forces without access to legal counsel, he was placed in solitary confinement and sent to remand prison for supporting of the right of prisoners to receive medical treatment.

Taher Mokhtar and the Egyptian Medical Syndicate denounce the medical neglect of detainees, a violation of Article 18 of the Egyptian constitution: access to health care is a right of all citizens. He has published several reports on the mistreatment of political and ordinary prisoners, the refusal to assist ailing detainees, as well as the inhumane and unsanitary prison conditions. He was incarcerated for seven months at the Tora penitentiary complex outside Cairo.

After being released in August 2016 he served as a resident doctor at the El-Nadeem center. Expecting to be arrested again, he fled the country in early 2017. Prison Insider has interviewed Taher Mokhtar.

"There were about 50 of us crowded into a tiny cell. At times we were so crammed together that I had to stand on one foot and then the other."