Egyptian security forces allegedly torture, detain children in direct violation of law

WION Web Team New Delhi, India Mar 23, 2020, 09.40 PM(IST) Edited By: Bharat Sharma

A picture taken during a guided tour organised by Egypt's State Information Service on February 11, 2020, shows Egyptian policemen at the entrance of the Tora prison in the Egyptian capital Cairo Photograph:( AFP )

Story highlights

The report titled “No one cared he was a child: Egyptian Security Forces’ Abuse of Children in Detention” claims 20 children aged 12-17 were arrested and abused by forces

The Egyptian police force, in tandem with the National Security Agency has been accused of forced disappearances, torture of children. Human Rights Watch and Belady: An Island for Humanity in report which was released today claim that the legal system ignored the abuse.

The report titled “No one cared he was a child: Egyptian Security Forces’ Abuse of Children in Detention” claims 20 children aged 12-17 were arrested and abused by forces.

“The harrowing accounts of these children and their families reveal how Egypt’s machinery of repression has subjected children to grave abuses,” said Aya Hijazi, co-director of Belady. 

“Egyptian authorities act as though they are above all laws when it comes to children in detention”, Hijazi added.

Based on the account mentioned on the Human Rights Watch website, 15 out of 20 children claim to have been tortured during interrogation. A child was also badly assaulted during the process.

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A picture taken during a guided tour organised by Egypt's State Information Service on February 11, 2020, shows Egyptian policemen at the entrance of the Tora prison in the Egyptian capital Cairo | AFP

 

As many as seven children claim that they were tortured using sophisticated electricity driven tools like stun guns.

“Egyptian authorities act as though they are above all laws when it comes to children in detention”, Hijazi added.

Many children were tied with arms behind their backs which led to the dislocation of their shoulders. A 14-year-old boy claimed that his joints had be put back into place with manipulation from another prison, who is allegedly a doctor.

Many human rights abuses have been reported under the government of President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi. Even though most abuse was allegedly committed by the National Security Agency’s officers, the police and army have also been complicit.

Also read: Egypt extends state of emergency to three years

“Children are describing being waterboarded and electrocuted on their tongues and genitals, and yet Egypt’s security forces are facing no consequences,” said Bill Van Esveld, associate children’s rights director at Human Rights Watch. 

Many human rights abuses have been reported under the government of President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi. Even though most abuse was allegedly committed by the National Security Agency’s officers, the police and army have also been complicit.

“Governments that want to end these horrors should end support to Egyptian security services and condition any future agreements on there being real reforms”, Esveld added.

Even though children were put into detention, their families were not informed. Many of them were missing in action for over 13 months. 

A child was given the death sentence, which is in direct violation of international human rights protocols in place. Additionally, three were indefinitely put in solitary confinement. When families tried to reach out to their kids, their requests were denied.

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Many narratives claim that there was not enough room for everybody to sleep, owing to which most kids slept in shifts.

A harrowing account released by Human Rights Watch suggests that kids were threatened were re-detention if they didn’t confess to the crime they were being held for.

According to Egyptian law, all detainees have to be presented in front of a prosecutor within 24 hours of taking them into custody. However, the authorities circumvented this law by claiming that the kids were “arrested”.

The law states that children cannot be tried before criminal courts, however, two kids were tried in military courts, which clearly disregards the law in place.

Under the 1996 Child Law and the subsequent amendments, special protection is accorded to children, and they cannot be detained and penalised along the same lines as adults.

A loophole in the Child Law enables officers to send children to criminal courts if their accomplices were adults, which is abused to prosecute children.

According to the human rights group, the allies of Egypt, including the US and many European countries need to end their support to the country in order for them to be held accountable for their trespassing.

(With inputs from the report released by Human Rights Watch)