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Rights Group: Egypt Tortures, Disappears Children


FILE - Egyptian children cheer outside a polling station in downtown Cairo. Egypt’s leaders hoped a high turnout Monday would bolster the poll’s legitimacy, March 26, 2018. (H. Elrasam for VOA)

An international rights group said Tuesday that Egypt has committed “shocking violations” against children, including torture and enforced disappearances.

Amnesty International said it has documented at least six children, including a 12-year-old and a 14-year-old, who were tortured in custody, and 12 who were subjected to enforced disappearances since 2015. It did not give the ages of the other children.

Citing the children’s families, Amnesty said the six were “severely beaten, given electric shocks on their genitalia and other parts of their body or suspended by their limbs.” Some of the torture was aimed at forcing the children to confess to crimes they had not committed, it said in a joint report with the Egyptian Front for Human Rights.

Egypt has waged an unprecedented crackdown on dissent since President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi led the military overthrow of an elected but divisive Islamist president in 2013. Thousands of people have been jailed, with many held without charge or trial. Rights groups say torture is widespread in Egyptian detention facilities, allegations denied by the government.

A spokesman for Egypt’s Interior Ministry, which oversees police, did not respond to phone calls seeking comment.

Amnesty said the 14-year-old boy was detained in January 2016 and held incommunicado for 35 days. It said security forces tortured him in order to extract a confession that he was a member of a terrorist organization and had attacked a hotel, crimes it said he did not commit. He remains in detention and will be tried alongside adults, it said.

It also said at least three children were sentenced to death following “unfair mass trials.” Two of these sentences were later overturned, while another is still pending appeal, Amnesty said.

“These findings reveal how Egyptian authorities have subjected children to horrific violations including torture, prolonged solitary confinement and enforced disappearance for periods of up to seven months, demonstrating an absolutely shameful disregard for children’s rights, said Najia Bounaim, Amnesty International’s North Africa campaigns director.

Bounaim urged Egypt to release “all children that are arbitrarily detained.... and quash any sentences issued to children in adult courts or after unfair trials.”

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