Egypt: Children face shocking violations including torture and enforced disappearance

Young protestors, Cairo, Egypt, 25 January 2011
Young protestors, Cairo, Egypt, 25 January 2011 © Sarah Carr

Children in Egypt have been subjected to military trials, charged based on “confessions” obtained through torture and kept in solitary confinement, according to new findings published by Amnesty International.

The information gathered by Amnesty and the Egyptian Front for Human Rights has been released to coincide with World Children’s Day and exposes how authorities have committed shocking violations against children in Egypt.

Since 2015 at least six children have been tortured in custody and 12 subjected to enforced disappearances.

The families of six children who were subjected to torture, interviewed by Amnesty and the Egyptian Front for Human Rights, said that during detention they were severely beaten, given electric shocks on their genitalia and other parts of their body or suspended by their limbs.

In some cases, the children said they were tortured and forced to “confess” to offenses that they did not commit.

Aser Mohamed was forcibly disappeared in January 2016 at the age of 14, where he was held incommunicado for 35 days and tortured until he “confessed” to “membership of a terrorist group” and attacking a hotel, offenses he says he did not commit. He is now facing trial as an adult which could see him sentenced to jail.

Abdallah Boumidan was 12 years old when he was arrested in December 2017 by the Egyptian military in Arish City in Northern Sinai then forcibly disappeared and tortured. He was held incommunicado for seven months before being charged with “membership of a terrorist group” and transferred to solitary confinement, where his health severely deteriorated.

In violation of international human rights law, Egyptian authorities have also imprisoned children alongside adults. In some cases they were held in overcrowded cells and without enough food. In at least two cases children were held in solitary confinement for a prolonged period. 

At least three children were sentenced to death following mass trials. Two of these sentences were later overturned while another is still pending appeal. 

Najia Bounaim, Amnesty’s North Africa Campaigns Director, said:

“These findings reveal how Egyptian authorities have subjected children to horrific violations including torture, prolonged solitary confinement and enforced disappearance for periods of up to seven months, demonstrating an absolutely shameful disregard for children’s rights.

“It is particularly outrageous that Egypt, as a signatory to the UN Convention on the rights of the child, is breaching the rights of children so flagrantly.

“Instead of brazenly violating children’s rights the Egyptian authorities must release all children that are arbitrarily detained. The authorities must also quash any sentences issued to children in adult courts or after unfair trials and retry these children in juvenile courts.

“Any allegations of torture or enforced disappearance must be investigated and those responsible must be brought to justice.”

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