Egypt: Security Forces Continue to Torture Children Despite 2014 Agreement to Train Police on Treatment of Minors
On 7 May 2015, Alkarama sent an urgent appeal to the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture (SRT) regarding the arbitrary detention, torture and continuous ill-treatment of two children, 16-year-old Ahmed Shaaban Youssef and his 14-year-old brother, Ibrahim Shaaban Youssef, since their respective arrests on 22 February 2014 and 3 January 2015. Now unlawfully detained in a prison for adults, both are still subjected to ill-treatment and remain at high risk of torture in retaliation for their participation in peaceful demonstrations.
The two brothers have been targeted by the authorities as a consequence of their participation to peaceful demonstrations against the 2013 coup, as the Egyptian authorities relentlessly continue to repress any dissident voice in Egypt, including against children. In fact, although on 13 December 2014 the Egyptian Interior Ministry's representative for human rights, Abu Bakr Abdel Galil would have signed into law regulations on how the police should treat minors who are detained or arrested – following an Alkarama report on 52 children tortured and sexually abused in a prison in Alexandria on 27 August 2014 – the treatment of children in detention has not improved, as the cases of four teenagers documented by Alkarama on 7 January, 8 January, 15 January and 27 April 2015 testify.
Arrest, pre-trial detention and torture of 16-year-old Ahmed Shaaban Youssef
On 22 February 2014, at night, several police vehicles of the Homeland Security Forces broke into the Youssef family apartment in the seaport city of Suez and, without showing an arrest warrant, started to search the premises thoroughly. Then, and without any reason, they blindfolded and handcuffed Ahmed and forced him into a military vehicle.
The security forces brought him to the Ataka police department in Suez where, for three consecutive days, the police subjected him to severe acts of torture – from brutal beatings and kicking to electrocution on every part of his body, including his genitals, causing him severe burnings and abrasions – to force him to confess crimes that he never committed. The only pause in these exactions occurred during his interrogation by the public prosecutor, who charged him on 23 February with "affiliation to the Muslim Brotherhood", "participation in illegal demonstrations" and "arson" under the repressive law on demonstrations n°107 of 2013.
Despite informing the public prosecutor of the torture that he had been subjected to, Ahmed was not authorised to see a doctor and no steps were taken to hold the officers responsible. To the contrary, he was moved back to the police station where his ordeal continued until 25 February. Furthermore and under the pretext of ongoing investigations, the prosecution renewed his pre-trial detention for 15 days.
Arrest, pre-trial detention and torture of 14-year-old Ibrahim Shaaban Youssef
Ahmed's younger brother, Ibrahim was similarly unlawfully arrested at home by Homeland Security officers, on 3 January 2015. Brought to the Ataka police department, he was equally charged with "affiliation to the Muslim Brotherhood" and "participation to illegal demonstrations", as well as "incitement to riot" under the same law on demonstrations of 2013. Ibrahim was then subjected to severe acts of torture, including brutal beating with rubber truncheons and electrocution.
Although he too informed the public prosecutor of the torture he was subjected to, neither was he authorised to see a doctor. And so was his pre-trial detention renewed for 15 days, in total violation of Article 119 of the Egyptian Child Law n°126 of 2008, which states that "the period for keeping a child in custody shall not exceed one week unless the court decides to extend the period according to the regulations for temporary custody as stipulated in the Criminal Procedure Code," and offering as an alternative to preventive custody the issuance of an order to deliver the child to one of his parents or guardian who should make him available upon request.
Detention of the two brothers in a prison for adults
Both are now detained in the Ataka Central Prison, located in the same building as the police station where they had been transferred to upon arrest. Held in deplorable conditions, they regularly continue to be subjected to humiliations and ill-treatments by guards as well as other inmates, in particular since they're detained with adult criminals, in total violation of the Egyptian Child Law, Article 112, which forbids the detention of minors with adults and even provides for a jail sentence of three months to two years, as well as a fine of 1,000-5,000 Egyptian pounds for any public official "who detains, places in custody, or imprisons a child with one or more adults in one place."
The Egyptian authorities are therefore violating some of the main principles of its own law last amended in 2008. Not to mention the multiple violations of the Convention on the Rights of Child (CCR), the Convention against Torture (CAT) and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) – to which Egypt respectively accessed in 1986, 1990 and 1989 – committed by the authorities through the arbitrary arrest and detention, as well as torture and ill-treatment of Ahmed and Ibrahim.
The authorities being unresponsive to the calls of the two brothers' relatives, Alkarama solicited the urgent intervention of the Special Rapporteur on Torture (SRT) to ask the Egyptian authorities to guarantee Ahmed and Ibrahim Shaaban Youssef's physical and psychological integrity. The Egyptian authorities have an obligation to launch impartial and prompt investigations into the torture that the brothers were subjected to, as well as to prosecute the perpetrators of such acts. Should no credible evidence be found to confirm their accusations, they must also release them. The Egyptian authorities should take effective measures to abolish the widespread practice of torture in prisons, such as:
• Adopting a definition of torture in line with that of the CAT;
• Effectively and impartially investigate reports of torture and ill-treatment;
• Prosecute perpetrators and their hierarchy and hold them to account; and
• Compensate victims.
Alkarama also hopes that the Interior Ministry will extend its December 2014 regulations to train police forces on the treatment of minors throughout the country, as well as put into concrete action its recent pledge to train them on finding the right "balance between ensuring security and the rights of citizens [...] and human rights and freedoms."
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