HRW says jailed Egypt activist needs urgent care

Rights group urges authorities to provide medical attention to al-Shatar, daughter of Muslim Brotherhood leader.

BEIRUT - Human Rights Watch called on Egyptian authorities Thursday to provide "critically needed medical care" to an imprisoned Islamist activist who is the daughter of a Muslim Brotherhood leader.

Aisha al-Shater, 39, was arrested in November 2018 in a crackdown that swept up other political and rights activists as well as lawyers, according to HRW.

She has been since kept in pre-trial detention on a string of charges including membership of a terrorist group.

Her father, Khairat al-Shater, was arrested in a sweeping crackdown on the now-outlawed Muslim Brotherhood group after the military ousted Islamist president Mohamed Morsi in 2013 following mass protests against his one-year rule.

"As if arbitrary arrest was not enough, Aisha al-Shater has had to endure inhumane prison conditions and her family has been living in anguish knowing almost nothing about her health," said Joe Stork, HRW's deputy Middle East and North Africa director.

According to HRW, she suffers from aplastic anemia and bone marrow failure which can both be "life-threatening and require expert medical care".

Amnesty International cited sources in November report as saying that she was subjected to "severe beating" and "electric shocks".

Campaigners have regularly accused Egyptian authorities of human rights violations including torture, overcrowding and medical negligence in jails.

Egypt's interior ministry could not be immediately reached for comment but authorities systematically deny allegations of torture in prisons.

In November, Egypt's prosecutor general said it was investigating complaints about Shater's deteriorating health which defence lawyers attributed to "poor prison conditions".

HRW slammed the investigation as "meaningless without ensuring she is able to receive appropriate, sufficient medical care and communicate with her family and lawyers".

Egypt branded the Muslim Brotherhood a "terrorist organisation" in 2013 and accuses the group of involvement in violence. The group consistently denies the allegations.