Amnesty: Authorities release minor allegedly raped, tortured by police

Egyptian authorities released Mazen Mohamed Abdallah, a minor who was allegedly raped and tortured while in police custody, on February 1, Amnesty International reported.

The National Security prosecutor ordered his release on Sunday 31 January, and he was officially released and back home on the morning of February 1, Egypt campaigner at Amnesty International Nadine Haddad told Mada Masr. 

Abdallah’s release is welcome news for him and his family, “but he should never have been tortured or forcibly disappeared in the first place. These abuses will continue happening until Egypt starts holding security forces to account,” Haddad said.

She added that torture and abuse by police forces in places of detention is a widespread practice in Egypt, explaining that there was intense international pressure on the Egyptian government to release Abdallah.

The Interior Ministry claimed that Abdallah was arrested on October 7, 2015, following an arrest warrant issued by the prosecutor’s office. The 14-year-old was plotting to attack state institutions and burn police trucks in Nasr City on behalf of the Brotherhood, the ministry alleged.

These claims were vehemently challenged by Amnesty International in  a statement released on December 11, which stated that police arrested the minor on September 30. National Security forces raided his home, the rights watchdog reported, and two military officers blindfolded him after going through his belongings, promising his mother that he would be returned home after they questioned him at the police station.

Abdallah was then forcibly disappeared for a week, being held and tortured in an unknown location, Amnesty reported, before being transferred to a Nasr City opolice  station.

During his detention, Abdallah told his family he was raped and tortured by police in order to force him to confess to belonging to the banned Muslim Brotherhood organization and participating in protests, as well as reveal names of other protesters.

Upon denying the accusations, Abdallah was allegedly beaten repeatedly, raped with a wooden stick and administered electric shocks to his genitals.

He was later transferred to a second Nasr City police station where, according to his family, the torture intensified and National Security officers told him that his parents would be arrested if he redacted his “confession.”

Abdallah was detained for 15 days pending investigation, in violation of the law, which bans pretrial detention for minors younger than 15 years old.

“Amnesty International has documented a rise in reports of torture, cases of deaths in custody and enforced disappearances across Egypt since the appointment last March of Minister of Interior Magdy Abdel Ghaffar, who comes from a national security background,” the statement said.

Head of the legal unit at the Egyptian Coalition for Children’s Rights, Mohamed al-Sayed, told Mada Masr that violations against minors in detention facilities have been on the rise, as more children are being arrested in politically motivated cases.

He explained that many of these minors reportedly manage social media accounts that vocally oppose the state. “It has become increasingly difficult to trace who uses these children. The Muslim Brotherhood is obviously hiding behind them, and the police never fails to subject them to further abuse in detention facilities,” he said.

Beatings, torture, rape and other forms of abuse are commonly used against minors, Sayed asserted. Children are often subject to legal violations as well, he said, including unlawful pretrial detention, trials in adult criminal courts rather than juvenile ones, harsh prison sentences in violation of child law,  and imprisonment with older convicts.

Sayed added that another child involved in the same case as Abdallah, Nour, was also subject to torture.

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