Minors in Egypt not immune of political detention, torture
Minors - Photo Courtesy of bu.edu.com

CAIRO: About 458 minors were detained over political incidents in Egypt since October 2013 and have been treated as criminals instead of victims of exploitation, Secretary-General of the Egyptian Coalition of Children Rights Hani Helal said.

“Amid the current political struggle in Egypt, minors are being exploited. About 145 children are now standing trials over political charges,” Helal told The Cairo Post Sunday.

Hossam Ibrahim, 15, was detained from his house late night by police officers who also took his father without explanation.

After failing to find evidence at Ibrahim’s house, officers took note of his Vandetta mask and added it to a list of fake accusations, according to interviews conducted by The Cairo Post.

Ibrahim’s father returned home but Ibrahim did not. He was being investigated by homeland security, where he was subject to torture, physical assault, electric shock, and was forced to confess that “he was a Brotherhood member,” which of course, he was not,”  Ibrahim’s brother Hozaifa said.

“My brother was accused of disrupting governmental interests and joining a terrorist group,” Hozaifa said. “How can a 15-year-old a boy do these crimes, they [charges] are all fabricated.”

Not only were the charges mocked by Hozaifa but also the fake evidence, which were associated with the report filed against Ibrahim. “According to the report, the evidence included cartridges, live bullets, Benzin jerkin, and the vendetta mask.”

“Since his arrest on March 17, Ibrahim has been under remand for 60 days in Mahala police station in Gharbiya,” his brother said and ensured that his 15-year-old brother does not have any political affiliations and has never participated in protests.

Ibrahim is not the only case of minors being treated as a thug and accused of charges disrupting the state’s peace. There are more than 50 minors behind bars in Dakahlia for different reasons, according to a report issued by Your Prison is Freedom campaign.

“The Dakahlia detained children faced not only fabricated charges but also awful torture in Dakarnas juvenile,” a Freedom for the Brave Campaign member Waleed el-Semary told The Cairo Post.

“The minors were subject electric shocks, continuous assault, ripping clothes, torture with cold water, food prevention, and being detained along with criminals,” according to the report.

In the report, one of detained minors’ mother said her son Baraa Hassan, 16, was detained twice and experience brutal assaults both times. “The first time was in June 2013 because of participation in a march in Mansoura. He was frequently stabbed by thugs and taken to a police station to be tortured by police officers.”

The other time was in January 13: “He was deported to Dakrnas punishment institution and faced repeated physical and psychological torture by officers.” She noted that her son’s health state is very poor and he might go blind.

Hisham Hussein, 18, also suffered health delinquency during his detention in Kom el-Dekka juvenile where he was infected with mumps, his brother told The Cairo Post.

Mohamed Imam, 17, is another case of unreasonable detention in Alexandria, which lasted for four months and half and still ongoing.

“My son was arrested on December 26, 2013 while he was on his way back from a private lesson and he was assaulted at the police station,” his mother Wafaa Ibrahim told The Cairo Post.

Ibrahim added, “Imam is accused of Molotov possession, disrupting traffic flow, damaging public installations and joining a terrorist group according to the report filed against him, however the Homeland Security’s report assured that he neither belongs to the Brotherhood nor possessed Molotov.”

She continued, “We are not politically affiliated and have nothing to do with the Muslim Brotherhood. We have not even participated in protests since the January 25 Revolution in 2011.”

Minors are part of existing random arrests that sweep wronged people netted in indiscriminate group arrests but remain behind bars for charges they did not commit.

Mohamed Mahmoud, a lawyer at the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI) told The Cairo Post, “The Ministry of Interior did not change, since random arrests and oppression of protesters and citizens still exist.”

“Freedom for the Minors”

A number of political activists launched a campaign called “Freedom for the Minors,” demanding the release of the detained minors in Ataqa prison in Suez governorate who were accused of “committing violent acts.”

A statement on the campaign’s Facebook page reads, “These minors are not terrorists and thugs and do not impose danger to the state; they are just kids behind bars.” The page noted that the number of the detained minors in Suez reached 22.

Mohamed Hafez, a lawyer at the Defense Front of Alexandria protesters, told The Cairo Post that said there are minors who were detained at Kom el-Dekka juvenile since July 2013 but there is a law banning the detention of children under 15.

“Article 102 of the Child Law stipulates the presence of alternative procedures to be taken instead of remand and prison,” Hafez said and that the police unfortunately do not apply these procedures.

Hafez said that prosecution should quicken its consideration of the cases where minors are involved, instead of renewing the detention. “The detained minors also could be released on bail until the date of their hearing.”

“How can a minor be accused of terrorizing and intimidating people, it is irrational charge,” he added.

“There are no criminal accusations for those minors and this means that they are treated as political detainees who were arrested over violating the protest law,” Hafez explained. “There is a problem in dealing with children amid the current political turmoil and this is evident in the presence of a 17-year-old minor among the 37 defendants who were sentenced to death in the famous mass trial in Minya.”

“These children should be protected rather than impose punishment on them,” Helal said.

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