CAIRO: A report alleging the torture of 52 children in Alexandria’s Koum El-Dekka prison was referred to Juan E. Méndez, the U.N. special rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, by Swiss NGO Al-Karama on Aug. 27.
According to an Al-Karama statement released Saturday, the children are between ages 15 to 18 and were subjected to torture and sexual abuse after they were arrested during a peaceful protest against the current regime eight months ago.
Authorities have accused the minors with conducting illegal demonstrations, attacking military and police forces and being members of a banned group, according to the report.
Rashed Mosali, the legal director of Al-Karama, said in a statement his organization is worried about forced testimonies that may have been extracted from the prisoners by authorities.
Mosali added that as they are children in custody, they deserve special protection under international law.
The case referred to Mendez called on him to ask Egyptian authorities to open an immediate investigation about these allegations, as they may be massive violations of human rights.
Anadolu Agency reported Saturday that Interior Ministry spokesman Major Gen. Hani Abdel-Latif responded to the Al-Karama report by saying Egypt is dealing with these allegations seriously and investigating them.
“These claims have not been confirmed yet, that’s what we can say,” Abdel-Latif said.
Despite continuous accusations by NGOs about torture cases inside jails and police stations, the ministry has denied that any of these cases actually occurred.
Interior Ministry spokesman Gen. Abdel Fatah Osman said in a phone call to the Manshet television show last July, “Egyptian prisons have become more like hotels, and all the accusations of any torture inside jails are not even close to the truth.”
Restructuring the Interior Ministry, dismissing corrupt officers and ending torture were among the main demands of the January 25 revolution, as many police violations reportedly occurred inside jails. The death of Khaled Said, who was beaten to death in Alexandria in June 2010 by Egyptian security forces, is widely considered one of the main events that brought about the January 25 Revolution and the overthrow of Hosni Mubarak after pictures of Said’s battered corpse became public.
Al-Karama is a Geneva-based, independent human rights organization established in 2004.