EGYPT: Boy, 16, tried before military court next Monday

[8 January 2015] - Geneva-based human rights organisation Alkarama submitted a request to call on the Egyptian authorities to the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (WGAD) on Tuesday to release a 16-year-old boy who currently faces a military trial, the organisation stated Wednesday.

Seif al-Islam Osama Shousha was arrested March 8, 2014 in Damietta and now he will soon face a military trial over “fabricated charges,” the statement added. The organisation told The Cairo Post via mail Thursday that “first hearing with the military prosecutor will be held on January 12 2015.”

“Alkarama sent an urgent appeal to the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (WGAD) to call upon Egyptian authorities not to judge Shousha before a military court and, in the absence of physical evidence, to release him immediately. Egypt must immediately put an end to the trial of civilians before military courts and respect its international commitments by ceasing to repress its population,” the statement read.

According to the prosecution investigation, Shousha is facing charges of participating illegal demonstrations and possessing streamers and smoke grenades. Under the Protest Law that entered into force in November 2013, any political demonstration is prohibited without prior authorisation from security forces.

“Bleeding heavily and suffering from a head wound and bruises on his body, Shousha spent the night at the police station without access to care or legal assistance, nor was he allowed to contact his parents,” AlKarama continued, claiming he was ill-treated by the inmates and the police officers.

“Six days before Shousha’s scheduled civil hearing, the civilian prosecutor withdrew in favor of a military prosecutor. Moreover, despite the lack of evidence, the new prosecutor added a new charge on his record, difficult to contest in Egypt, that of ‘belonging to a terrorist group [the Muslim Brotherhood],’” the organisation added.

The organisation told The Cairo Post that the WGAD did not reply so far, adding “procedures between the United Nations and the Egyptian authorities are confidential so we are not always informed of whether an action has been taken or not.”

In October, President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi issued a decree under which crimes of terrorism that “threaten the safety and security of the country” may now fall under the purview of military courts.

“This  case is not the only one with a minor; Mohamed Ihab arrested when he was 16 years old in 2011 and was sentenced 15 years in prison before a military trial and is serving time in al-Fayoum prison now,” Sara Al-Sherif from the No Military Trials for Civilians organisation told The Cairo Post Thursday.

Other organisations concerning children’s rights are planning to follow up Shousha’s case, Neama Abu el-Ela, the legal advisor in The Egyptian Coalition on Children Rights (ECCR), told the Cairo Post Thursday.

ECCR reported in December that more than 600 minors, aged between 14 and 17, are being detained in a Central Security Forces camp in Banha, Delta; they have been charged with joining terrorist groups, blocking roads and assaulting police officers. Despite the Ministry of Interior’s denial, the ECCR confirmed that they filed a case against the ministry, and sent a report about the situation of minors.

Ela added that the ministry has not yet replied to the coalition’s report.

The eighth chapter of Egypt’s Child Law provides that a minor who was arrested shall be detained for a “specific period,” provided with necessary legal assistance, a suitable place for detention that does not include adult detainees, and should be referred to juvenile courts. Also, article 26 of the Criminal Code says a minor shall not be detained for more than 24 hours.

Read more about unoffical police camps in Egypt with 600 detained children here


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