Rights Groups Condemn Detention of Egypt’s Children

Mamhoud Adel Mohammed is a 13-year-old Egyptian boy who suffers from bone cancer. He receives chemotherapy and can hardly walk.
Mahmoud is not a patient at a hospital that specializes in treating children. He is not surrounded by the medical care he needs. Mahmoud is held at the Borg El Arab police station in the city of Alexandria, on charges of “blocking the road next to the Security Directorate in the Smouha area, obstructing security forces, causing damage to police vehicles, attacking a public facility, terrorizing citizens and using weapons.”

Since he has been detained, Mahmoud has been unable to undergo chemotherapy sessions and to take the medication prescribed for him, which threatens his life, Sarah al-Sharif told As-Safir. Sharif is an activist in the group “No to Military Trials for Civilians.”
In an attempt to save the child’s life, the Egyptian Children’s Rights Coalition (CRIN) filed a complaint against the public prosecutor in Alexandria, accusing it of not enforcing the law regarding the detention of Mahmoud and another child, who have been detained since Jan. 27.
The CRIN has also sent an urgent request to the public prosecutor demanding the immediate release of the two children. Another request has been sent to the attorney general in Alexandria to recognize the right of Mahmoud to receive his medical treatment.
Mahmoud is not the only child to be unlawfully detained in violation of all laws and customs. According to CRIN’s report, 91 children were arrested on Jan. 25 during the demonstrations and clashes that erupted in various Egyptian cities on the second anniversary of the revolution.
The children’s detention clearly violates Article 119 of the Egyptian Children’s Act, which stipulates that “children under the age 15 are not to be detained,” Sharif confirmed.
This has not been the only violation of the Children’s Act. The law also prohibits the detention of children with adults at all stages of the investigation, but young detainees have been locked up with older prisoners.
“Children are being mistreated and prevented from going to the toilet for hours at a time. Some of them have been severely beaten,” Sharif said. She added that “children are being treated based on the orders of the public prosecutor or the judge dealing with this matter, not according to the law.”
In November, Human Rights Watch issued a report stating that 300 children have been arrested during protests in Cairo alone over the course of a year.
The organization found evidence that police and military officers had beaten and severely tortured children.
Some children that had been released told the international organization that some police and army officers have kicked and beaten them with rifles and batons, and even tasered them.
Human Rights Watch said in a report that the government of President Mohammed Morsi promised to put an end to violent practices against children, and said that “if the government wants a real break with the past, it should make it a top priority to investigate the abuse of children at security officials’ hands and prosecute the officials responsible.”
Six months into Morsi's rule, however, nothing has changed. Children remain in Egyptian police departments and prisons.
In a statement, CRIN condemned the detention of children since the revolution began. The coalition “accused the government of being incompetent and unable to find the true perpetrators behind all each incident starting with the Egyptian Scientific Institute, the Interior Ministry, Parliament, Mohamed Mahmoud Street and the most recent events.”
Mahmoud remains in detention, and his condition deteriorates with each passing day. He may lose his life because the Muslim Brotherhood believes children they have detained pose a “threat to the regime."

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