Rights groups call for an investigation into torture allegations of detained minors at the Kom Al-Dikka care facility and their arbitrary transfer to the Marg juvenile penal institution
- 48 detained school students – age ranging between 14 and17 – subjected to torture
- Authorities must stop breaking the law by transferring minors in pretrial detention to penal institutions
The undersigned organizations callfor a serious, independent and full investigation into allegations that detained minors were tortured and illtreated by security forces in a juvenile care facility in Alexandria’s Kom al-Dikka on 4 June 2014. We demand for the detainees to be immediately examined by forensic physicians to document any physical injuries and to hold those responsible to account. We also urge the relevant authorities to take effective measures to protect minors in the Kom al-Dikka juvenile care facility and the penal institution in Marg from further torture, ill-treatment and other punitive measures by officials s, which according to detainees’ families have increased since the violent incident. The detainees should also be protected from any ill-treatment and sexual harassment and assault by other detainees.
The undersigned organizations condemned the authorities' transfer of the minors, held in pretrial detention, to the penal institution in Marg, a grave breech of the law, which stipulates that minors must not be transferred to such penal institutions unless convicted by a court.
According to the detainees’ families and lawyers, on Wednesday, 4 June, criminal investigators in juvenile affairs in Alexandria requested the assistance of security forces, including a unit of the Central Security Forces, when minors detained at the Kom al-Dikka care facility refused to comply by a decision—not shown to their lawyers—to transfer a number of minors to a Cairo penal institution. The detainees and their families refused to complyfearing t abuse.
According to testimonies collected by the undersigned organizations from the detainees’ families, as well as direct observations by the detainees’ lawyers, security forces attacked 48 children, aged 14–17, most of them preparatory and secondary school students held at the facility in connection with political cases. Most were arrested at demonstrations , while others were arbitrarily swept-up in the vicinity of protests. The security forces are reported to have cuffed their hands behind their backs , stepped on their backs, and beat them with various objects including with shoes and batons. In the immediate aftermath of the incident, 20 detainees were moved to a penal institution in Cairo. There are conflicting reports about the refusal of the institution to admit some of them, due to their serious visible injuries . Further, relatives of some detainees were unable to find out where their children were held for several days. While the administration of the Kom al-Dikka facility claimed that the minors had been moved to the Security Directorate after the Amiri Hospital refused to admit them, the Security Directorate denied the allegation. According to the father of N. M., one of the detainees, a policeman in the care facility told him, “They [the detainees] are upstairs…If one of them dies, we’ll notify his family.”Another detainee's father, told one of the undersigned organizations, that his son and his peers “are in serious danger in the detention at Kom al-Dikka. He was subjected to beatings, violence, threats, intimidation, torture, humiliation and physical and psychological harm. They stomped on his head and stood on his back, and that of his friends', with the boots of the Interior Ministry forces. Unfortunately, the attack was carried out by Interior Ministry forces with the help of some common-law [detainees].”
After the events in Kom al-Dikka on 4 June, the investigating authorities visited the care facility and charged the juvenile detainees with destroying public property, assaulting security forces, assaulting and resisting law enforcement officials and preventing them from carrying-out their duties, injuring law enforcement officials, cursing and insulting law enforcement officials on duty responsible for the security of the Kom al-Dikka care facility using offensive terms and destroying transportation . On Saturday, 7 June, the investigating authorities postponed the interrogations for a week to determine the appropriate jurisdiction. On Thursday, 12 June, the authorities transferred the remainder of the 48 detainees to the penal institution in Marg; while on the morning of 14 June, 14 minors were re-transfered back to the facility in Kom al-Dikka.
While attending the questioning of 28 minors at the Kom al-Dikka facility, lawyers noted visible injuries such as bruises, contusions and redness . The detainees’ lawyers demanded for the defendants’ allegations about the assault and individuals they identified as responsible to be included in the interrogation report. The investigating authority refused to record some detainees' statements accusing police guarding the facility of involvement in the abuse. This raises questions about the neutrality of the investigation authority, especially since the questioning was carrying-out at the facility in full view of security personnel, who stand accused by the detainees. The 20 detainees transferred to the penal institution in Cairo were not questioned and their injuries were not documented in the institution’s admission records.
After visiting the penal institution in Marg, the detainees’ families said that their children are still suffering fromthe effects of the beatings, and from serious ailments requiring medical intervention, including a number of detainees complaining of kidney pain. Testimonies also indicate that some of the minors sustained fractures as a result of the beatings, but they have yet to be taken for medical treatment. In addition, some of the 28 detainees complained of sexual harassment at the hands of other detainees. Their families said that the minors were separated after the 4 June incident and moved to different cellblocks with other detainees held in connection to common-law cases. Further, their beds and blankets were confiscated and some were denied family visits. The minors' relatives lodged complaints with the attorney general, the public prosecutor and the juvenile prosecution in relation to the assack permeated against their children. These complaints have thus far solicited no response from the investigating authorities.
The undersigned organizations stress that these events demonstrate the failure of the relevant authorities to carry-out their duty to monitor detention facilities and guarantee that detainees are protected from torture or the excessive use of force. The Wadi al-Natron Prison witnessed similar events and allegations in late May, and despite promises by the public prosecution no serious investigation has taken place to date.
We call on the relevant authorities to comply by their legal obligations under the Egyptian constitution—specifically, Article 80—and international conventions, including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which provide for the protection of children from violence and torture. According to these treaties and international standards, minors should only be detained in exceptional circumstances when absolutely necessary; and non-custodial alternatives should always be sought first.
- Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights
- Egyptian Center for Economic and Social Rights
- El Nadeem Centre for psychological rehabilitation of victims of violence and torture
- Association for Freedom of Thought and Expression
- Egyptian Foundation for the Advancement of Childhood Conditions
- Front to Defend – Alexandria’s
- National Community for Human Rights and Law
- The Arab Network for Human Rights Information