It has almost been one year since article 80 of the Egyptian Constitution, which was ratified via popular referendum in January 2014, stipulated that children “shall be provided with legal assistance and detained in appropriate locations separate from those allocated for the detention of adults”.
In the first 10 months of 2014 (up to 3/11/2014), 328 children have been detained for the legitimate exercise of their rights to peaceful assembly, and to freedom of association and expression. This brings the total number of minors still in detention since the military coup of July 3rd, 2013 to 370 under 18s (2170 minors have been arrested since the coup in total)*. According to the Nadeem Center for Rehabilitation of Victims of Violence, the number is significantly higher and that up to 600 minors are being held in one detention camp in the town of Banha, North of Cairo.^
Children are held on a range of charges including participating in unauthorized protests, of membership of a prohibited organisation (the Muslim Brotherhood), of calling for the downfall of the regime, and of blocking roads and transportation, destroying public property etc. While the arrest of minors at protests is not a new phenomenon in Egypt, their treatment once detained is a major cause for concern. We, and other human rights organisations have documented strong evidence that police and military officers beat many of the children and in some cases subjected them to treatment amounting to torture. There are also repeated allegations of sexual abuses and illegal detention amongst adult prisoners, trial in adult courts, and denial of their rights to counsel and notification of their families.~
We would like to highlight the cases of 3 children:
Anas Mohamed Ahmed Khamis
Age: 17 years
Date of detention: 26/11/2014
Place of detention: Sidi Gaber police station detention centre
Case reference number: 1089/2014 Misdemeanour Children
Allegations: Membership of a forbidden group, violence destruction of public property (trees and power transformer) Victor Emmanuel square, Alexandria, Egypt. Posession of fireworks.
Conditions of detention:
– Anas has been subjected to severe physical abuse and torture to extract false confessions about people and places that he does not know anything about.
– He was sexually assaulted repeatedly by an adult under the direction of the Police Chief at Sidi Gaber police station.
– He attempted suicide by cutting of his wrists in order to escape the torture and humiliation he was suffering.
He was only moved to a minor detention facility on 29/12/2014 by order of the prosecutor M. Shalaby pending his trial date.
Date of Birth: 16 December 1998
Age at the time of arrest: 15 years
Date , time and place of arrest: Tuesday February 11th, 2014 at 7pm from his home.
Formal date of arrest as documented in his papers: February 13th, 2014 after 2 days of beatings and interrogation at Mansoura 1st or Dekernas .
Allegations: Burning police cars, resisting and targeting police, and belonging to a terrorist gang.
Evidence submitted: His laptop and mobile.
Place of detention: Mansoura 2nd police station.
Conditions of detention: Crowded prison cell, amongst adult aged criminals, sleeping on the floor in cold and unsanitary conditions, not allowed exercise or eat healthy food. Sohaib had been beaten and electrocuted to confess to being in possession of Molotov bombs.
Dates of extension of his detention:
Detained for 15 days on 3 occasions (from 13/02/2014, then 27/02 then 12/03)
Detained for 45 days on 2 occasions (27/3 then 11/5)
First formal trial date: 17/08/2014, postponed to 18/10, then to 2/11/2014 and now to 18/1/2015
Sohaib has suffered from rheumatic bone pains and arthritis. His patella was dislocated and very painful, after several pleas to the security forces, he was taken to hospital on the 25/09 and his knee operated on the 29/09/2014. The doctors advised that he should remain in hospital for at least 2 weeks for post-operative care and to start physiotherapy. Unfortunately, the doctor’s advice was not headed by the security forces. Sohaib was moved back to prison after 3 days (on the 2nd of October 2014) and placed in his detention cell in Mansoura 2nd prison, under extremely uncomfortable and unhygienic conditions. He is at high risk of infection at the very least. Without the required physiotherapy and exercise, the knee will become stiff and his mobility will be affected for the rest of his life.Since his operation, Sohaib, with his leg still in cast has been dragged to court twice, both times in a wheel chair. The first time on the 18th of October where his case was postpone; the second time on the 2nd of November, 2014. He appeared unwell and was feverish. He was wrapped in blankets and laying on a bench outside the courtroom waiting for his trial. Unfortunately and for no evident reason, his case was postponed again till December 8th, 2014, then to January 18th 2015.
Monzer Hassan El Ezaby
Age: 17 years
Date of detention: 04/11/2013 and 28/06/2014
Place of detention: Post Said Main prison
Allegations: Attempts to attack Al-Arab police station (together with 190 others), possession of firearms and unlawful publications (Rabaa sign).
Conditions of detention:
Munther was arrested twice; the first time for demonstrating outside the courthouse during the trial of Dr Morsi. He was arrested a second time from hospital when he was attending with a fellow protestor and friend. They were both demonstrating in Althlathiny Street in Port Said when his friend suffered a knife injury from police thugs. The army searched him and on his phone, they found pictures of protests he attended. All 7 young protestors were arrested including the injured youth. It is not unusual for the security forces to hunt doen and arrest injured protesters from medical facilities.
Munther and his colleagues have been severely beaten and electrocuted in Alzahoor police station to give false confessions. His place of detention was not revealed to his family for several months and he was deprived of legal advice, family contact and his right of education. Under duress and against his conviction, he was ordered to kiss the picture of Abdel Fattah El-Sisi the current president and coup leader and their pictures were subsequently placed on Facebook to humiliate him.
He has been receiving 15 day extensions since he was held in June. His first trial date was November 6th, postponed to 24th of December, then now postponed to January 14th, 2015.
Save Women and Children from Oppression (SWACO) demands that the Egyptian authorities:
1- Immediately release all children detained under investigation, particularly the 43 children who are 15yrs old or under.
2- Ensure that detention must be a last resort and for the shortest possible time and away from adults at all stages.
3- Encourage adopting alternative measures to detention, such as enrollment for vocational training, probation and public service, release under the care of a guardian.
4- Stop immediately any military trials for children, no matter what their charges are.
5- Activate general and subsidiary child protection committees all over the country, in order to enable them to play their role in monitoring the violations that the Egyptian child undergo in all locations within their geographical scope, including places of detention place in order to intervene where child protection is needed and to follow up on actions taken and to write reports.
6- Give civil society organizations concerned with Child rights and child protection full acces to children in detention and reveal any secret holding locations such as the alleged centre in Banha. ^