IV. ARREST AND TRANSPORT
Children "vulnerable to delinquency" in custody are especially vulnerable to extortion, beatings, and other ill-treatment by police, because they typically lack adults willing to monitor their treatment and to make complaints on their behalf. While the worst police abuse took place in police adult and juvenile lockups, Human Rights Watch found evidence of serious violations of children's rights during interactions with police outside of lockups, most commonly when police arrested children or transported them between facilities.
Police Beatings and Other Ill-treatment
Human Rights Watch interviewed thirty-five children who had been arrested at least once. All of the children reported being beaten or subjected to obscene and degrading language while in police custody. "The police usually beat you during the arrest and at the police station," said Yusif H., sixteen. "Even the police who know you."66 Only one child reported having seen other police intervene to protect children from such abuse. 67 No child we interviewed reported being questioned by prosecutors or other officials about police ill-treatment, even in cases where children had visible injuries. Police beatings during arrest are typically less severe and less frequent than beatings at police stations, possibly because of the greater opportunities for public scrutiny of police behavior during arrests.68
Unlike beatings in police lockups, where police used a wider variety of implements to beat children, most children said police beat them with hands or batons during arrests. Anwar R., fifteen, told us he had been beaten by police during arrest several times. His arrest in February 2002 was typical of many accounts we heard. "The police grabbed me and hit me and tied my hands with a rope and put me in a car," he said. "Then they took me to the police station, first to Giza police station and then to al Azbekiya police station." More unusual was his experience in June 2002, when he said police used an electric baton to shock him.69 "The police in the white police cars sometimes have an electric baton, a black one, that they use," he said. "About a month ago police in a white car grabbed me. They were four police, but only one used electricity on me. He said, `What made you leave your house?' I told him, `I'm from here, from Giza!' I knew if I told them I was from [a city in the Sa`id] they would arrest me and send me back." Anwar said the police eventually released him without taking him to the station.70
In the quotation that begins this section, Ziyad N., fourteen, described his treatment during an arrest campaign in late June 2002. After the police beating during his arrest, he spent two nights at the Sayyida Zaynab police station before being released the third day.71
Police routinely used obscene and degrading language to humiliate and intimidate children during arrests. The most frequently reported verbal abuse used by police included calling children "bastards," "whores," children of "whores" or dogs, or making references to children's mothers' sexual organs-all extremely offensive attacks on family and personal honor in Egyptian society. Most children we interviewed were visibly uncomfortable when asked to repeat specific terms police used, and apologized for repeating such language. "The police hit us, curse us, take us to the police station, then send us to the police station [in the city] we came from," said fourteen-year-old Seif S.72 "The government curses us. They curse us badly-curses of religion, of mothers, of fathers," said Nagla' R., seventeen.73 Violence and the threat of violence during arrest to humiliate and intimidate children was often an integral part of other forms of abuse, including police extortion and sexual abuse and violence.74
Both girls and boys told Human Rights Watch that police frequently extorted money in exchange for avoiding arrest, securing early release from detention, or gaining access to food during detention. Girls said they sometimes agreed to sex with low-level police in exchange for police protection from sexual violence by other men and boys. Police officers told us that they believed street children earned significant sums of money through begging or selling small items, a factor that may have contributed to police targeting such children for extortion during arrest and detention.75
Children told us that police officers frequently stopped them on the pretext of determining their identity, only to release them if they agreed to pay a bribe. Nasir Y.'s experience, described above, is typical of the accounts we heard. "I was in the al Manial neighborhood. We were four kids. They were one ordinary police officer and the police station commander and two low-ranked police. We were crossing the University Bridge and they were waiting at the other side of the bridge. They asked us for our identity documents, but we were all young so we didn't have them. They kept hitting us and telling us to get identity documents. Then the regular officer took me aside, and I gave him 5LE (U.S.$1.10). Then he let us go."76
Eighteen-year-old Farida N. said she and a group of younger girls and boys made good money selling paper tissues on the Cornishe, a busy pedestrian and auto thoroughfare, but much of her earnings went to bribe police. "The Cornishe is hard. The police are always asking you for your identity document and the auxiliary police (shortat al baladiya) comes twice a week and takes 20LE (U.S.$4.40) from each of us to let us work. If we don't pay the police, the man who employs us won't let us work there. On an average day I earn 15LE to 20LE (U.S.$3.30 to U.S.$4.40)."77
In other cases, police simply stole money from children in their custody, confident that they would face no repercussions. Ziyad N., fourteen, described how a police officer stole his money during an arrest two weeks earlier. "During an arrest campaign the police go around in a microbus or in "the box". . . .In "the box" an officer took my money-it was 7LE (U.S.$1.54)-and he said, `You don't need it, you'll only spend it.' He wouldn't give it back."78
Like many children with whom Human Rights Watch spoke, Ziyad N. believed that police punished children who couldn't pay bribes by detaining them longer than other children. "[At the police station] the amin al shorta [a mid-level position that assists a higher ranking officer] will take your money by force. They take your money and then let you go. If you don't have any money, they make you stay a while and then they release you. The small kids don't stay too long-only three or four days."79 Nasir Y. said, "If you pay 2LE to 5LE (U.S.$0.44 to U.S.$ 1.10), the police at al Azbekiya [juvenile lockup] will let you go, but, if you don't pay, you stay a long time."80
Younger children said they were more likely to be released without paying bribes. Thabit A., ten, described his arrest a few months earlier, in the winter. "They took me to the Sayyida Zaynab police station. They didn't keep me there; they just put me back on the street without saying why. I was going to give them 5LE (U.S.$1.10) to let me go, but the officer said, `Keep it in your pocket and get out of here.' He hit me once with his hand and then let me go."81
Both girls and boys are at risk for sexual abuse and violence in police custody, but girls and women living on the street face additional pressures to enter into sexual relationships with police even when not in custody.82 Several girls and women we interviewed reported that they had entered into relationships with police guarding parks and other public places, because they depended on the police to protect them from sexual violence by other men and boys. "We make friends with the police, so that they will treat us well and watch out for us while we sleep in the park and release us quickly if we are detained," said Nawal A., nineteen.83
Girls who were unwilling to seek such "police protection" could find themselves facing other forms of exploitation to ensure a safe place to sleep. Ilham N., a fifteen-year-old runaway, told us that she tolerated abusive conditions working as a housemaid rather than live on the street. "I didn't want to do the nasty things the girls here [at an nongovernmental center for street children] have done, so I looked for work. But it is hard to find work. I don't want to be like the other girls, who befriend police or boys because they might force me to do something I don't want to do. Something sexual. And then later, when I marry, I might be walking with my husband and the police officer might stop me, or the boy greet me, and then what would I say? It is better to keep to yourself. I befriend girls, but only girls. And any girls who does those filthy things, I stay away from."84
Egyptian police routinely transport children in conditions that violate international standards, including the prohibition on cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment. Police frequently transport children considered "vulnerable to delinquency" with adults and children charged with serious crimes, often using poorly ventilated prison transports or other unsuitable vehicles. In some cases groups of children are moved on foot or on public transport while bound in handcuffs or ropes, exposing them to public censure and humiliation.
Cairo police generally transport a child arrested for being "vulnerable to delinquency" at least four times: from place of arrest to an adult police lockup; from the adult lockup to the al Azbekiya juvenile lockup; from the juvenile lockup to the Public Prosecution Office for Juveniles; and from the Public Prosecution Office back to the juvenile lockup. If the Cairo Public Prosecution Office or the juvenile court orders a child returned to family living in a different city, the child must make an additional journey from the al Azbekiya juvenile lockup to a police station in that city, and children ordered to spend time in a social welfare or punishment facility also pass through al Azbekiya on their way to and from that facility.
Each stage of the transport process exposes children to different dangers. Based on Human Rights Watch interviews, the vehicles used to transport children from the point of arrest to the nearest adult police lockup are usually safer than other vehicles used for transport, because they typically hold smaller numbers of children and police are less likely to mix children with adults or to mix children "vulnerable to delinquency" with children arrested for serious criminal offenses. Nevertheless, two types of vehicles commonly used during arrests raise special concerns. The first, a pickup truck commonly know as "the box" because of its canvas or hard cabin partially covering wooden benches in the back, lacks secure seating and children whose hands are bound are especially at risk of being thrown from the narrow benches while the vehicle is moving. The vehicle's open back also exposes children to public scrutiny and censure. The second type of vehicle, a microbus van, is commonly used during arrest campaigns when larger numbers of children are detained at one time, increasing the possibility that children of different ages and backgrounds will be mixed together. In some instances, the microbuses are taxis confiscated by police specifically for use in arrest campaigns and may be in poor repair.85 When police use pickup trucks or microbuses instead of smaller vehicles, children may spend longer periods in the vehicle if police wait until the vehicle is full before returning to the police station.
The most dangerous vehicles police use to transport children are Ministry of Interior Transport Administration vehicles. These large, dark blue metal trucks are most frequently used to transport adult criminal suspects and convicts, but police also often use them to move children between adult police lockups, the al Azbekiya juvenile lockup, and the prosecution office.86 The trucks typically have four small barred windows on both long sides, one small barred window on the rear door, and no seating for detainees. The trucks' dark color and poor ventilation make them extremely hot during the summer and the lack of seating makes it difficult for detainees to avoid being thrown about during transit. A human rights lawyer who had been transported in one such vehicle seven times during the summer of 1994 described it as hellish, saying: "To keep from falling while the vehicle was moving you have to hang onto the window bars, but when the sun is beating on the bars they are too hot to hold. You have to wrap them in a shirt. The smell was horrible, and everyone fought to stand near the windows just to take a breath. We would cling to the windows to breathe even though the bars and the [metal] sides of the vehicle burned us."87 Human Rights Watch witnessed several instances when adult detainees held in Transport Administration vehicles parked near police stations used underclothing to clasp the barred windows and begged passers-by to bring them water.
Children told us that Transport Administration trucks were sometimes extremely crowded and that police regularly mixed children with adult criminal detainees who beat and verbally abused them. Sixteen-year-old `Amr R. said, "I was taken to the prosecution office in a blue transport [vehicle], with handcuffs on. I rode with the men in the transport. Some of the men cursed me, but only one hit me. I was the only kid. The trip took an hour, going and coming." 88 Anwar R. told us that police transported him with adult criminal detainees multiple times during the two and a half weeks he spent at the Giza police station, the Giza Observation House, and the al Azbekiya juvenile lockup, before being returned to his family. "They just move us from station to station until they send us to the countryside," he said. "We were moved [between stations] in prison transports, with adults. We were tied with ropes, but the adults had handcuffs. It was winter and cold. Every time they moved us [in Cairo] they used the big transport vehicles."89
Children who witnessed or were victims of assaults by other detainees during transport told Human Rights Watch that police had done nothing to protect them from these assaults. In at least one case a guard from the al Azbekiya juvenile lockup took advantage of limited supervision during transport to sexually abuse a child. Mona A., sixteen, told us a police guard attacked her a month and a half earlier, while she was being transferred between the al Azbekiya juvenile lockup and the facility where she was being held on a morality charge. "The guard was watching me from early on," she said. "We were in a transport vehicle full of girls and boys of different ages. When the vehicle is moving all the people in it are thrown from side to side. The guard fell on me, but when we moved again he wouldn't get off me." Mona said the guard pinned her to the floor and groped her until she hit him repeatedly; other children then joined in hitting the guard until he let go of her. "Usually the boys from [her home province] protect the girls from there," she said. "But this was a guard."90
In some instances police also use trains to transport children and adult detainees to or from police stations and facilities in distant governorates. Anwar R. described his transport by train to his home province. "After a week at al Azbekiya there was a group of us from the Sa`id region, and they sent us all back to the Sa`id together. It was a lot of people. They sent us in a train of prisoners. The small kids were tied with ropes, and the adults were in handcuffs. We were all together. The first two cars of the train are prison cars and the rest were regular cars. There were a lot of police. They didn't feed us on the train. We got on at noon and arrived at night."91 Seif S. told Human Rights Watch that police had sent him by train to Asyut and al Minufiya governorates some ten times, depending on where he said his family lived. "When they sent us to the countryside it was in a train, with adults. Last time they sent us to Shibin al Kawm [in al Minufiya]. It took about an hour. There is no food on the train, but there is water."92
General Sayyed Mohammadayn, director of the Ministry of Interior's General Administration for Juvenile Welfare Investigations, told Human Rights Watch "We issue instructions to police officers that children are to be moved separately in special vehicles, and children should not be placed with adults under any circumstances." When asked to respond to specific instances of abuses during transport, he acknowledged that "the people who are responsible for transporting the children are a problem," but he said it was responsibility of the Cairo Police Directorate, and not the General Administration for Juvenile Welfare Investigations, to investigate violations of general administration policies that placed children in danger.93
Many of the children we interviewed said police bound their hands with rope or handcuffs at some points during their arrest and detention. Police use of restraints was most common during transport between police stations and the prosecution office, but also occurred when children were being moved within buildings or being transported by train.94 Children were often bound to each other in groups, with no attempt to separate children by age or by charge. "They put me on a train handcuffed to two girls. One was charged with murder, one with writing bad checks," said Warda N., sixteen, describing her transport from a city near the Suez Canal to Cairo in July 2002.95 Based on Human Rights Watch interviews, police appear to be equally likely to use handcuffs with younger and older children. The youngest child who reported being handcuffed was an eleven-year-old boy who was handcuffed while being transported by train with adults.
The use of ropes to bind groups of children appears to be most common when police arrest children for being "vulnerable to delinquency" within a few blocks of a police station and force them to walk as a group to the station. Widad T.'s description of her tenth arrest, in early July 2002, was typical of many children's experiences. "Five girls were arrested with me. They took us to al Azbekiya. They tied us with rope and made us walk to the station. There were four police. They didn't say anything, just `Begging.'"96 In addition, lawyers and staff of the Association for Human Rights Legal Aid told us that they often saw police marching groups of children bound together with ropes from a nearby metro station to the Cairo Juvenile Court/Dur al Tarbi`a complex, or from the nearby police station to the Cairo Juvenile Court.97
General Administration for Juvenile Welfare Investigations Director General Mohammadayn told Human Rights Watch that ministry policy prevented the use of handcuffs on young children and on children "vulnerable to delinquency." "Handcuffs can be used with children who have committed crimes, but their transport can't be with adults or on general public transport. Children `vulnerable to delinquency' are never handcuffed. It isn't a problem, because the child isn't a danger if he runs away. Still, we do see cases where a guard with twenty juveniles [in his custody] uses a rope to tie up the juveniles. In such cases we tell that guard that using a rope is wrong."98 A mid-level police officer at the Bulaq al Dakrur police station told us he decided when to use handcuffs based on the child's age, and not based on the charge against the child. "We don't put handcuffs on the small kids. Could you put handcuffs on a small kid? I can't do it; it wouldn't be right. Besides, the small kids are afraid of us so we don't have to put handcuffs on them. Only on the older ones."99
Use of Transport Vehicles as Temporary Police Lockups
At approximately 11 a.m. on July 24, 2002, a Human Rights Watch researcher observed police at the Bulaq al Dakrur station using a truck labeled "Ministry of Interior Transport Administration Vehicle" to detain a group of approximately twelve children and ten adults. The truck appeared to be of the type used to transport police conscripts to their posts, and was similar to a prisoner transport but lacked a back door and had wooden benches inside. Six of the detained children were boys and girls who appeared to be between ten and fourteen years old, and the remaining children were all girls who appeared to be fifteen or sixteen years old. Police guarding the truck told us that all the younger children had been arrested for begging and that some of the older girls had been arrested on morality charges, while others had been arrested "for selling tissues." The men and one of the older girls wore handcuffs, while the other children were not bound.
Although police had parked the truck in partial shade, conditions inside the poorly ventilated dark metal vehicle already were sweltering. Asked why the children were being held in a transport truck on a day when the temperature was expected to reach 95 degrees Fahrenheit (35 degrees Centigrade), the mid-level officer supervising the vehicle told us, "Because they are going to be released. Then their families will come to get them. And if their families don't come, then we will send them away at 5 or 6 p.m."
Most of the adult detainees were seated on the floor of the crowded vehicle, apparently to distance themselves from the hot metal walls. The children stood in the remaining space, except for two older girls whom police allowed to stand in guards' niches outside the vehicle's back door, and two well-dressed girls who were allowed to remain outside the vehicle. The supervising police officer told us that the two girls were allowed to stand outside, because "[t]hose are good girls. We know them. They live near here. They sell tissues by the Sheraton Hotel. We are just waiting for the results of the check [for outstanding warrants] and then we will release them. In such cases, they only stay at the police station twenty-four hours, and then, once we get the results of the check, we release them."
The younger children told Human Rights Watch that they had not eaten since their arrest the previous day, and asked for food and water. The supervising officer confirmed that police did not feed detainees, but said that detainees were permitted to "collect money from each other and then send someone to buy food." The researcher observed a young child delivering sandwiches to some of the adult men, and was later able to buy sandwiches for the detained children.
Human Rights Watch was unable to determine how commonly other police stations use transport vehicles as temporary lockups, but it was clear from our conversation with police that this practice was not unusual at the Bulaq al Dakrur station. We also observed police holding children in Transport Administration prisoner transport trucks for shorter periods at the Cairo Juvenile Court/Dur al Tarbi`a complex in June and July 2002. In those cases, the trucks were parked in partial shade, but the back door was kept locked, and the trucks were moved within one hour.
66 Human Rights Watch interview with Yusif H., Cairo, Egypt, July 9, 2002.
67 One child reported that higher-ranking police officers sometimes intervened to stop sexual abuse of girls in custody by lower ranking officers. See Chapter V.
68 For example, the head of a development organization told Human Rights Watch that he and other riders intervened to prevent transit police from arresting a young boy selling newspapers on the Cairo metro in July 2002 after they witnessed the police beating the boy while attempting to arrest him. Human Rights Watch interview with Mahmud Mortada, director, the Alternative Center for Development, Cairo, Egypt, July 20, 2002.
69 Human Rights Watch did not document other cases where electric batons were used against children "vulnerable to delinquency" during arrest, and we do not know how widespread this practice is. Police use of electric shock to torture detainees held at police stations is well documented, including some cases involving children. See, for example, U.N. Special Rapporteur on torture, Report to the Commission on Human Rights 57th Sess., January 25, 2001, E/CN.4/2001/66, paras. 415-476; and the Egyptian Organization for Human Rights, Victims without Rights: Torture in Police Stations and Detention Centers in Egypt (Cairo: EOHR, March 2002, in Arabic).
70 Human Rights Watch interview with Anwar R., Cairo, Egypt, July 9, 2002.
71 Human Rights Watch interview with Ziyad N., Cairo, Egypt, July 10, 2002.
72 Human Rights Watch interview with Seif S., Cairo, Egypt, July 10, 2002.
73 Human Rights Watch interview with Nagla' R., Cairo, Egypt, July 14, 2002.
75 See Chapter V for a discussion of extortion in police lockups. Human Rights Watch interview with mid-level and lower-level police officers, Bulaq al Dakrur Police Station, Cairo, Egypt, July 24, 2002.
76 Human Rights Watch interview with Nasir Y., Cairo, Egypt, July 9, 2002.
77 Human Rights Watch interview with Farida N., Cairo, Egypt, July 17, 2002.
78 Human Rights Watch interview with Ziyad N.
80 Human Rights Watch interview with Nasir Y.
81 Human Rights Watch interview with Thabit A., Cairo, Egypt, July 10, 2002.
82 See Chapter V for a discussion of police sexual abuse and violence against girls in custody.
83 Human Rights Watch interview with Nawal A., Cairo, Egypt, July 15, 2002.
84 Human Rights Watch interview with Ilham N., Cairo, Egypt, July 16, 2002.
85 Police also use confiscated microbuses during arrest campaigns against adults. An experienced Egyptian human rights lawyer told Human Rights Watch that the practice was particularly common during the early 1990s, and that he had once filed a complaint on behalf of 120 taxi owners from the Helwan neighborhood of Cairo whose microbuses had been confiscate by police for up to three days for use in arrest campaigns. Human Rights Watch interview with Gamal Eid, formerly director of the Information and Documentation Unit of the Center for Human Rights Legal Aid, Cairo, Egypt, July 24, 2002.
86 In June and July 2002 a Human Rights Watch researcher observed children being transported in the trucks at the al Azbekiya Juvenile Welfare facility and the Cairo Juvenile Court complex, and observed children detained in a similar transport truck at the Bulaq al Dakrur police station.
87 Human Rights Watch interview with Gamal Eid.
88 Human Rights Watch interview with `Amr R., Cairo, Egypt, July 9, 2002.
89 Human Rights Watch interview with Anwar R.
90 Human Rights Watch interview with Mona A., Cairo, Egypt, July 27, 2002.
91 Human Rights Watch interview with Anwar R.
92 Human Rights Watch interview with Seif S.
93 General Mohammadayn said later in the interview that he would investigate an incident at the Bulaq al Dakrur police station where police detained children with adults in a Ministry of Interior Transport Administration vehicle for several hours on a hot summer day. Human Rights Watch interview with Gen. Sayyed Mohammadayn, director, General Administration for Juvenile Welfare Investigation, Ministry of Interior, Cairo, Egypt, July 27, 2002.
94 Children of all ages typically reported being bound within police stations during questioning or when being moved from administrative rooms to the lockup. Human Rights Watch also observed police using handcuffs on children of all ages at the Cairo Juvenile Court, although police removed the handcuffs during hearings and interviews with social workers.
95 Human Rights Watch interview with Warda N., Cairo, Egypt, July 27, 2002.
96 Human Rights Watch interview with Widad T., Cairo, Egypt, July 14, 2002.
97 The association's offices are located within a few blocks of the Cairo Juvenile Court, the Dur al Tarbi`a social welfare facility, the Bulaq al Dakrur police station, and the Cairo University metro station.
98 Human Rights Watch interview with General Mohammadayn.
99 Human Rights Watch interview with police officer with rank of amin al shorta, Bulaq Dakrur Police Station, Cairo, Egypt, July 24, 2002. Name not given.