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Rights of detained children in Egypt 'are being violated': UNICEF

Violations of detained children's rights are 'unacceptable,' says UN official, stressing situation must be 'urgently' addressed

Hazel Haddon, Monday 4 Mar 2013
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Egyptian boy looks over barricade
A boy standing behind a barbed wire barricade in Cairo, December 6, 2012 (Photo: Reuters/Mohamed Abd El Ghany)

In an interview with Ahram Online on Thursday, UNICEF Representative in Egypt Philippe Duamelle spoke of "serious concerns" related to the rights of children detained following clashes and demonstrations.

Egypt has witnessed a wave of demonstrations by anti-government protesters since the second anniversary of the January 25 revolution. Some rights groups have described an increase in the levels of police brutality towards children arrested at demonstrations, including allegations of torture and of preventing detained children from receiving essential medical treatment.

Duamelle told Ahram Online that UNICEF, with the support of civil society and government partners, was providing legal assistance to around 600 children who had been accused of involvement in demonstrations and clashes in recent months.

Many of the detained children "have seen their rights seriously violated," said Duamelle, primarily by being detained along with adults, subjected to physical violence, or denied access to immediate legal assistance.

The rights of minors are set out in Egypt's Child's Law, amended in 2008. The law explicitly states that children are to be held separately from adults if they are charged with a crime.

"At the moment, it seems the law is not enforced in some cases...We have heard testimonies that create serious concerns for us," said the UN official.

"There is no reason why this should not be stopped. Government mechanisms are in place. Clear legislation is in place; it just needs to be enforced... there is a clear call for this to be addressed as urgently as possible," added Duamelle, who stressed that children were highly valued in Egyptian society.

"No one is above the law, and if children commit a serious offence, of course the law has to be enforced," said Duamelle. "But if children are arrested...their rights should be respected."

He added: "It is unacceptable to see children being abused. It should not be tolerated."  

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letrisha ajodha
06-03-2013 12:52pm
i as a reader and writer feel strongly about whats happening to our children and it is wrong for us to stop them form growing up and robbing them of their childhood and youth so as a worried person i would like for u to take and put it in to action you's truly L.ajodha
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Hany Milad
05-03-2013 05:36pm
somone needs to be held accountable
Sadly, the fact is that when civilian adults are arrested in Egypt; their basic human rights are usually disregarded as they subjected to merciless police brutality, this has been the case before the revolution and seems to be the case after as well. But to see this happen with children as well is a terrible tragedy. Someone needs to be held accountable for this. This barbaric behavior for which Egyptian police has been known for has to be controlled.
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