Egypt: 16-Year-old High School Student Held Incommunicado for Over Seven Months
On 8 January 2015, Alkarama sent an urgent appeal to the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (WGAD) and to the Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances (WGEID). The communication concerns the case of Ahmed Mahmoud Mahmoud Mahmoud Taha, a 16-year-old high school student, detained incommunicado since his arrest by agents of the security forces on 18 May 2014.
As he left his place of work – a fast food in Shubra El Kheima, located in the governorate of Al Qalyubia –Ahmed Mahmoud was arrested, along with other students, by agents of the security forces and forcibly taken to the security forces centre of Banha, according to the prosecutor in charge of the investigation. Alerted by people who witnessed his arrest, his father inquired about his son's fate but was denied any visit.
Since Mahmoud's arrest, only the prosecutor was able to see him for questioning. His family is aware of his condition only through sporadic reports from the prosecutor's counsel, including on the charges held against him, of "belonging to a terrorist group [the Muslim Brotherhood]" and having "torn a poster of Al Sisi" – charges which can bring a heavy sentence, even as a minor.
Moreover, Mahmoud has never been brought before a judge, nor has he been allowed to see his lawyer. His almost eight months' incommunicado detention is particularly worrying, especially because the security forces – which report to the national security – are known for the practices of abuse and torture in their premises.
The lack of information on Mahmoud's health conditions and his young age reinforce his relatives' concern, whose steps taken towards the authorities – in particular with the Attorney-General of the governorate of Al Qalyubia – to visit their son have all remained unanswered. Today, it is impossible to know whether Ahmed will eventually be placed in an official detention centre, tried or released.
In view of this information, Alkarama alerted the WGAD to call upon the Egyptian authorities to allow immediately Ahmed's family and lawyer to visit him and to guarantee his physical and mental health. In the absence of physical evidence against him, Ahmed Mahmoud must be released and an independent investigation opened if he reports any acts of torture or ill-treatment committed during his detention. The Egyptian authorities must take immediate steps to end the arbitrary detention, torture and enforced disappearances of its citizens, especially minors, particularly vulnerable because of their young age.
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