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Egypt: CFJ presents report on children’s rights ahead of 96th session of UN Committee on the Rights of the Child

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Egyptian authorities have failed to adhere to the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the Committee for Justice said Wednesday.

Children in Egypt are subjected to violations that affect their freedom of expression and peaceful assembly, deprive them of liberty, subject them to torture, and other forms of inhumane and degrading treatment during detention.

This was outlined in a report presented by the CFJ to the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child ahead of its ninety-sixth session, which will review the file of the Egyptian state, addressing the violations children in Egypt face, starting with violations of the right to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly. The report highlighted the tangible reality of human rights in Egypt, which has had the greatest impact on children.

Most of the arrests of minors in Egypt were due to their participation in protests or peacefully expressing their opinions on social media against the political regime. The authorities detained and prosecuted dozens of children who participated in peaceful protests since July 2013. Additionally, children without political or ideological affiliations, such as football club fans, were arrested. Many children belonging to “Ultras Ahlawy” and “Zamalkawy” were arrested for their chants in stadiums or their social media posts condemning the arrest of their friends and relatives. Also, in September 2019, authorities arrested 69 minors during protests against President Sisi’s rule.

Moreover, according to Article 80 of the Egyptian Constitution, the state is obligated to care for and protect children from all forms of violence, abuse, and mistreatment. The state commits to establishing a specialized judicial system for children, providing them with legal assistance, and ensuring their detention in appropriate and separate facilities from those of adults, which contradicts reality. According to the CFJ report, in the past four years, children have been detained with adults in the same detention facilities in Egypt, where they suffered from abuse, physical and psychological torture. In 2021, hundreds of civilians were convicted in an unfair mass trial of over 700 opponents, including 22 children, accused of involvement in the Rabaa sit-in in 2013.

The report also highlighted the “Joker” case in 2019, where 4 unidentified children posted a video wearing masks, calling for protests on the anniversary of January 25th revolution. Authorities arrested 48 children for this video, and 103 individuals were referred to the Emergency State Security Court on the same charges, including 28 children, with varying sentences ranging from 5 to 15 years.

The Egyptian prison administrations continue to adopt a series of inhumane practices against detained and imprisoned children, depriving them of basic needs, including emergency healthcare, food, water, clothing, as well as banning family visits, in some cases for years, in addition to prolonged solitary confinement.

In 2022, the CFJ documented 31 violations against children in juvenile detention centers, as well as the death of 6 children and injury of 25 others inside the Children’s Correctional Institution in al-Marg during June 2021, due to a deliberate fire and negligence by the institution’s administration, which closed the doors and left before the fire broke out, resulting in the death and injury of many imprisoned children unable to leave during the fire.

The committee also documented cases of torture against minors, including the case of the child Ahmed Khaled Abdel Mohsen Sdouma, who was subjected to enforced disappearance iat the age of 17. After being presented to the prosecution, he confirmed being beaten with metal bars and tortured with electricity until officers forced him to make false confessions.

Considering the aforementioned details, the CFJ recommends, in conclusion of its report, the release of all arbitrarily detained children in politically motivated cases and the expungement of their criminal records, along with a review of child law articles that allow the trial of children aged between 15 and 17 alongside adults in criminal courts and state security courts.

The committee also calls on Egypt to stop using the death penalty against children and to cease the arrest of children for peacefully expressing their opinions, whether through social media or participation in peaceful protests, while also urging investigations into those responsible for torturing children during interrogation sessions and holding them accountable in police stations, state security buildings, public prosecution, and state security prosecution.

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