Egypt police torture detained children, HRW says
Human Rights Watch (HRW) has censured the Egyptian police over the detention and torture of 20 anti-government protesters, among them underage detainees, stating that a persistent pattern of abuse and culture of impunity for the perpetrators of violence exists in the North African country.
The New York-based group said in a report released on Thursday that six of those detained during an arrest sweep in the Mediterranean coastal city of Alexandria in February 2016 told relatives and lawyers that they were tortured and subjected to various forms of ill-treatment.
The mistreatment included being punched and given electric shocks in the genitals, having their arms tied and being suspended from their arms, being handcuffed in painful positions for long periods, having water thrown on them, and being forced to sleep on the floor in the cold.
The HRW report further disclosed that Egyptian authorities initially refused to acknowledge they were holding the detainees or to tell their families their whereabouts for more than a week. Police purportedly tortured the captives to make them confess to alleged crimes or provide the names of other suspects.
Although all the arrests were made on February 4 and 5, the country’s National Security Agency said in a report to the prosecutor they had been arrested on February 12, the day before the detainees first appeared in a court.
Egyptian law requires warrants for arrests and for prosecutors to see any detainee within 24 hours of detention.
“Some Egyptian officials have disappeared children and apparently tortured them, then faked arrest records to cover it up,” said Zama Coursen-Neff, children’s rights director at Human Rights Watch, adding, “The authorities have turned a blind eye to the reports of abuse and refused to investigate.”
“Since 2014, Human Rights Watch has documented National Security officers’ frequent use of enforced disappearance and torture, as well as a failure by prosecutors and judges to investigate these violations when defense lawyers raise them,” the report said.
On April 13, Human Rights Watch said at least 7,420 Egyptian civilians have faced trial in military courts since October 2014, when President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi decreed a major new law that expanded military court jurisdiction.
The rights group also said that at least 86 children, as well as students, professors, and activists were among those tried in military courts.