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On World Children’s Day, CFJ calls for saving Egypt’s detained children

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On World Children’s Day on November 20, the Committee for Justice (CFJ) organisation condemns Egypt’s utter disrespect for children’s rights, enshrined and prioritised in international law.

According to statistics issued by the organisation for the period from January to September 2020, violations against 93 minors were detected inside detention facilities in Egypt. These violations included: enforced disappearance, torture, detention in poor conditions, and deprivation of liberty.

On the occasion of World Children’s Day, Ahmed Mefreh, Executive Director of  CFJ, said:

“Egyptian authorities have not hesitated to suppress all segments of Egyptian society, including children, in violation of all international and humanitarian norms, using the most severe types of violations against them; in a clear and explicit violation of the innocence of these children.”

Children in detention facilities in Egypt are exposed to a wide range of violations. That begins with the method of arrest, as authorities overlook the submission of arrest warrants, deliberately conceal the true dates of detention in multiple cases that have been reported of children who have been forcibly disappeared, and have not yet opened any investigations into the torture allegations against these children.

Moreover, Egyptian authorities have brought minors to trial before exceptional courts such as Military Courts / Terrorism Courts, taking advantage of a loophole stipulated in the Child Law that allows prosecutors to refer children to criminal courts for adults in the event that one of the suspects is one or more adults. One child has already been sentenced to death, and others are held in solitary confinement, in clear violation of international law.

“The organisation, with its mechanisms used to monitor detention centers and prisons in Egypt, has detected the presence of a large number of minors in detention cells, in violation of the provisions of international law regarding places of detention of children, amid poor conditions of detention that undermine many of the child’s human rights. Many of them were subjected to enforced disappearances and torture in a complete disregard for their rights and the innocence of these children,” Mefreh added.

According to CFJ, within the framework of the project to monitor violations in detention centers and prisons in Egypt, during the period from January-September 2020, 89 cases of deprivation of liberty occurred against minors, with most of them taking place in the month of September – which witnessed calls to demonstrate against the regime, as 64 children were deprived of freedom.

The organisation also monitored 48 cases of enforced disappearance, with the month of September also had the largest share of them, with 24 children who were forcibly disappeared, as well as 12 cases of detention in poor conditions, and one case of torture against a child.

In conjunction with the activities of the World Children’s Day, and in the context that the actions of governments, or their inaction, affect children more severely than they affect any other group in society, CFJ said that Egyptian authorities must implement the provisions of the Child Law of the year 1996, and its 2008 amendments, which provided a form of protection for children by providing alternatives to child detention, as well as providing for penalties for persons who detain minors in the company of adults, with the need to eliminate loopholes in the law itself that allow children to be tried before criminal courts for adults.

The organisation also believes that the international community, and the countries that are allied with Egypt in particular, should stop their support for Egyptian security agencies, until Egypt shows effective steps to lift these violations against children and hold those responsible accountable.

Likewise, the Egyptian authorities should swiftly release minors who are held in their custody without trial and for long periods of time, or bring them to a competent trial to try them, through laws designed specifically for them, and not before exceptional courts as is the case now.

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