Many of the types of abuse of children in police custody documented in this report predate the Child Law.253 Rather than prevent these abuses, the Child Law has contributed to them by reinforcing the view that children in need of protection should be treated as potential criminals. In doing so, it consigns these children to the care of three ministries that have proven unwilling or unable to ensure their protection: the Ministry of Interior, the Ministry of Justice, and the Ministry of Insurance and Social Affairs.
This chapter focuses primarily on institutional barriers that prevent the Ministry of Justice's Public Prosecution Office and the Juvenile Court from fulfilling of their role in investigating abuses of children deprived of their liberty and promoting each child's best interests. Human Rights Watch believes that these Ministry of Justice institutions, with proper staffing, training, resources, and nongovernmental and governmental oversight, could become effective defenders of the rights of Egyptian children in need of protection or in conflict with the law. To date, the Ministry of Justice has proven incapable of serving as a meaningful check on the Ministry of Interior, an agency notorious in Egypt for tolerating widespread torture, ill-treatment, and corruption by its personnel and for its resistance to reform.
We limit our discussion of the Ministry of Insurance and Social Affairs to the role of its social welfare experts, whose work often supports that of Ministry of Justice and Ministry of Interior officials.254 These social welfare experts currently lack the training, resources, and status necessary to determine the best interests of the children who come before them and to be effective advocates for those interests, a failing that seriously undermines the few existing mechanisms to combat Ministry of Justice and Ministry of Interior abuses.
Finally, we note the need for significant improvement in coordination and exchange of information among all government and nongovernmental bodies dealing with children in need of protection or in conflict with the law.255 Of particular concern, as the sections that follow reveal, is the lack of coordination between the Ministry of Insurance and Social Affairs, which has the greatest capacity to evaluate children's needs and interests, and the Ministry of Justice, which alone has the power to initiate criminal investigations into abuse and to order protective or rehabilitative placements for children "vulnerable to delinquency."
The widespread, systematic use of torture and ill-treatment by Ministry of Interior officials against detainees has been well documented since at least the early 1990s.0 In his January 2001 report to the Commission on Human Rights, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture cited thirty-two cases of death in custody, apparently as a result of torture, occurring between 1997 and 1999, while the nongovernmental Egyptian Organization for Human Rights documented seven deaths due to torture in police custody in 2001.1 Many of the cases from the 1990s involved torture of suspected dissidents by the Ministry's State Security Investigations personnel (mabahith amn al dawla), a practice that remains common. However, since the mid-1990s torture and ill-treatment by regular police against ordinary citizens has become common. Many observers attribute the rise in torture and ill-treatment in police stations to the perceived impunity from prosecution or disciplinary action enjoyed by Ministry of Interior personnel.2
Although the Ministry of Interior has an Inspection Unit responsible for investigating any kind of abuse committed by police, it operates with extreme secrecy. By law it is empowered to recommend that an offender be tried administratively before a disciplinary council of two high-ranking Ministry of Interior officials and a senior judge. 3 However, the Inspection Unit does not make public information on the number of complaints received and the action it has taken, does not allow victims and their lawyers any role in or access to information about ongoing investigations, does not allow victims to call witnesses, and does not notify victims of investigation results. According to Col. Dr. Muhammad Ghanam, former head of the Legal Research Office of the Ministry of Interior and former professor of law at the Police Academy, "the Ministry of Interior regards torture as a simple administrative offense."4
This lack of information makes it difficult to determine what, if any, action the Ministry of Interior has taken to combat torture and ill-treatment of children in police custody. However, the assessment of the Ministry of Interior official with direct responsibility for children is telling: according to General Mohammadayn, the Ministry of Interior does not compile statistics on police abuses of children, has no procedures for children to file complaints, has no special procedures to guide its response when it receives multiple complaints about a particular police station or police officer, and does not monitor implementation of its own regulations regarding children. "We issue written instructions to all police officers but our staff doesn't have the capacity to monitor the whole country. [Our role in preventing abuses is to] offer trainings for the police directorates. Some officers learn and some don't." Asked what a child should do if abused in police custody, he told us: "If something happens to a child in the al Azbekiya juvenile lockup the child won't be able to do anything while he is there. After he is released, if the child knows how to read and write, he will do what he needs to do to make a complaint to this office. He can write me a letter."5
None of the thirteen children Human Rights Watch interviewed who had gone before the Cairo Public Prosecution Office for Juveniles had ever been asked about police abuse, detention with adults, or conditions in police lockups. Many children told us that prosecutors did not speak to them at all, or only asked basic questions about their names and addresses, effectively denying children an opportunity to participate in their own defense or to make complaints about abuse. The impact of these violations of international and Egyptian law is enormous for children "vulnerable to delinquency," who frequently have no adults they can call upon to speak on their behalf.
Children arrested for being "vulnerable to delinquency" have few if any opportunities to explain their situation to the public prosecutor or defend themselves from possible criminal charges. Many of the children we spoke with said the prosecutor did not speak to them at all, or only repeated questions the police had asked earlier about their names, ages, and addresses or whether they had committed crimes. Ziyad N., fourteen, was arrested with four other children during a campaign in June 2002 and detained for three nights at the Sayyida Zaynab police station. "They took me to the prosecution office. He didn't ask any questions; he just looked at the paper and said, `Go'. Then I went back to the police station, and they released me after two nights."10 Khaled M., eleven, described his experience at the Cairo prosecution office. "They ask you where you are from. Then the prosecutor says `You stole something.' I say, `I didn't steal anything.' Then he says, `O.K. Begging.'" 11 Wafa' R., fifteen said, "At the police directorate the government orders four or five days detention. At the Public Prosecution Office they say, `Why did you leave your family? It is wrong for a girl to leave her family.' Then they take you to the police station; then they deport you [to your home governorate]." 12
In a few cases children told us that the prosecutor had asked if they wanted to go home, but did not say what if any alternatives they had to going home. Although many children we interviewed came from abusive home situations, they nevertheless said that it was best to tell prosecutors that they wanted to go home because they thought this would speed their release. Other strategies included claiming to be from distant cities, because the police routinely returned children from outside of Cairo to those cities without investigations. "The police grab me and send me back to Tanta," explained Hani B., thirteen. "I'm not from Tanta, but I say I'm from Tanta because it is easier to get released at the Tanta police station. I sit there and cry until they release me. The other kids do this too. Tanta is the best, because they release you in one day. The others take longer."13
The summary nature of the prosecution office review is exacerbated by both the poor training of public prosecutors for juveniles and the paucity of information prosecutors have about the children who come before them. According to the chief prosecutor for the Cairo Public Prosecution Office for Juveniles, prosecutors in that office rarely stay more than a year before being transferred to another post. New prosecutors receive some basic training, but most of their training is on the job. "There should be more permanent positions so that there is a professional group of prosecutors working with juveniles," he said.14
In addition to interviewing the child, prosecutors are supposed to base their decisions in cases of children "vulnerable to delinquency" on police investigative reports, social reports prepared by police social experts at the police station, social inquiry reports prepared by social welfare experts assigned to the juvenile court, and information on children's previous arrests. In actuality, prosecutors often have little if any information outside of that contained in the police investigative report. Social welfare experts assigned to the Cairo Juvenile Court told Human Rights Watch that the police almost never provided the social report that is supposed to be completed at the police station at the same time that the investigative report is written. According to one experienced social welfare expert, "most of the case files for juveniles are completely devoid of evidence of the role of the female police investigator responsible for the police social report because of the speed in which the juvenile is processed and because police in local stations don't believe this [social expert] position is important, and think that the police report is sufficient.15 Social inquiry reports prepared by the court's social welfare experts contain only the barest information on the child's background (see below).
Police, prosecutors, and social workers also complained that they frequently lack information on children's previous arrests, although the number of previous arrests is considered to be the key determinant in whether or not a child arrested for being "vulnerable to delinquency" received additional scrutiny. This was true even in cases of children like Seif S., fourteen, who told us he had never seen a judge, despite multiple arrests. "They always send me home. This has happened a lot, maybe ten times."16 An experienced social welfare expert at the Cairo Juvenile Courts told us, "On the first arrest the child is handed over to his parents. On the second arrest the child should go to court. If children tell you they didn't go to court it is because they gave a wrong address and the court issued a ruling in their absence. The list of priors shows all prior arrests and this should be reflected in the report, but the children don't give their correct names so the previous arrests don't always show up."17 According to police and social workers, in most cases prosecutors only order social welfare placements for children found "vulnerable to delinquency" if they see evidence that the child has had multiple previous arrests. Al Azbekiya director Abu Shahdi told us, "The first time a child is arrested the prosecution office issues a warning to the guardian. The second time the guardian is charged with a misdemeanor. The third time the guardian is fined. The fourth time the prosecution office orders the child placed in a social welfare institution."18
In all but two of the thirty-five cases we investigated of children arrested for being "vulnerable to delinquency," children were either released directly to the street or ordered returned to their parents.19 While there may be some instances where release under these conditions is appropriate, such decisions should never be made without a prompt, thorough study of the child's family situation, undertaken by a social welfare authority that is independent from both the police and the prosecution, to determine the child's best interest; such thorough investigations are especially important when dealing with children who may be victims of violence, neglect, or exploitation. Based on our interviews with children, social welfare experts, prosecutors, and judges, it is difficult to believe that this standard is ever met.
Staff at two nongovernmental organization told us that knowing that prosecutors would order children's release encouraged some police to take matters into their own hands when dealing with street children. With boys this often took the form of beatings and prolonged illegal detention in police stations, described earlier in this report; with girls it sometimes meant that police filed false charges against them. The gender disparity may reflect a perception that it is more socially unacceptable for girls to remain on the street than it is for boys, who are assumed to be better able to take care of themselves. "Sometimes the police will charge a girl with a more serious crime if she has been arrested several times for begging," said a social worker who had worked with street girls at one nongovernmental organization. "Generally the courts will only order a child to be placed in a social welfare institution if the child has been arrested many times or has been arrested for a serious crime."20
Inadequate Judicial Review
According to social welfare experts attached to the Cairo Juvenile Court, before 2001 the court had never attempted to monitor conditions in children's institutions, although two major institutions are housed in the same complex, one of which is in the same building.23 Even now, under a more activist chief justice, the court does not routinely monitor these institutions. "The Ministry of Insurance and Social Affairs [operated] institutions are supposed to issue reports every three months on the children in their care, but they rarely provide them because the judge doesn't ask for them," one social welfare expert said. "In more than fifteen years as a social welfare expert attached to the First Instance and Appeal levels of the Juvenile Court, this past year was the first time a judge asked me to visit an institution. Last year he asked me to visit al Qasirat [Institution for Social Welfare, a girl's facility specializing in "decency" cases, loosely defined as any case with a sexual aspect] and Dur al Tarbi`a, and in January 2002 I visited the `Ain Shams Boys facility."24 Ironically, these same social welfare experts often have information that would significantly facilitate both public prosecutors and judges in monitoring conditions in children's institutions, but lack any mechanism for sharing that information: "I have authority to visit Ministry of Insurance and Social Affairs' children's institutions because I am a Ministry of Insurance and Social Affairs expert responsible for regular visits to those places, but those reports go to the Ministry of Social Affairs, not to the Ministry of Justice."25 Cairo Juvenile Court Chief Justice Ahmed Hussayn Mohammad Mi`ad told us it was impossible for the court to fulfill its monitoring obligations with its current staffing. "We are supposed to visit the social welfare institutions, but we don't because we don't have time. If we had thirty juvenile courts for Cairo it wouldn't be enough."26
The lack of resources and inefficient deployment of shared resources is compounded by a lack of interest in addressing issues of police abuse. Social welfare experts who prepare the social inquiry reports on children's cases told us that in their experience judges never asked for information about police abuses of children. One social welfare expert attempted to explain this lapse, saying that judges did not normally see children when the police first brought them in, the moment when they were most likely to bear visible signs of abuse. "This is all at the stage before the child goes to the prosecution office so the judge hasn't seen the case yet. After the child goes to the prosecutor, either he is released or he is detained here, at the observation house, where the child is bathed and given new clothes before he goes to the judge. Usually a week to fifteen days pass between the arrest and the first court session, so the judge doesn't know and doesn't ask."27 However, the prosecution office, the social welfare experts' interview room, and the observation house are in the same small building as the court, literally steps away from each other.
Only a handful of children we interviewed said they had ever been before a judge. Those who had described extremely brief hearings where they were asked only their names and addresses. Hani B.'s experience was typical of these children's accounts: "[T]he prosecutor asked me where I lived, then wrote to send me to Tanta. Then the judge asked me if I wanted to go home, so I said yes. They only want to know where we are from in order to send us home."28 Dr. `Azza Kuraym told us that in her experience judges routinely order children sent back to their families: "I think a child shouldn't be returned to a family that exposed the child to delinquency. . . .but the judges don't think that children should be in institutions so they send the child back home. There is too much freedom for judges to do whatever they want."29
In only two cases we investigated did the court order children placed in social welfare facilities. In one case the child had been arrested in a raid on a brothel, and in the other case the child had been charged with theft. Suliman M., fourteen, described an arrest about five years ago that resulted in his detention for six months. "I was about nine or ten. The police took me to the Sayyida Zaynab police station and charged me with stealing wallets. I spent four days at Sayyida, then seven days at al Azbekiya, then I went to the prosecution office... [The judge] asked if I sniffed glue or smoked cigarettes. Then he said, `End of the session.' At the end of the session, he said, `Six months.' That was all."30 Suliman said he served his sentence at a facility in Giza where he received no educational services or vocational training and where staff frequently beat children. "We would get up, then clean, then eat breakfast, then watch television, then eat lunch, then play, then eat dinner, then clean, then go to sleep. Kids who didn't listen [to the staff] got hit. Kids who ran away got hung up. The police would bring the kids back and the `sir' would hang them by their feet or hands and hit them with a baton or a thick stick (shuma)," he said.31
These accounts of superficial trials are consistent with the cases we observed during a session of the Cairo Juvenile Court on July 3, 2002. Justices and social welfare experts present at the session described the caseload as normal to light, with approximately fifty cases on the roll; children were present at the court in roughly half of the cases. The majority of the children present were charged with misdemeanors or felonies, including murder; only a handful was charged with being "vulnerable to delinquency." A guardian and/or lawyer accompanied many, but not all, of the children charged with serious offenses. Among the few children charged with being "vulnerable to delinquency" were three unaccompanied boys who appeared to be six to seven years old, and one four-year-old accused of begging who appeared with a parent. No hearing lasted longer than five minutes, and in the majority of cases judges asked no questions of children other than their names. Social welfare experts, while present as required by law, did not speak on behalf of children except in a very few cases when they were asked specific questions by the judges. Social welfare experts told us that they considered this panel of judges the best they had worked with, and praised Chief Justice Ahmed Hussayn Mohammad Mi`ad. "He is very understanding of children's circumstances, and he pays attention to the reports of the social experts and mentions them in his rulings," one expert said. "The other judges have not been so interested." 32
Overworked Juvenile Court Social Welfare Experts
Social welfare experts are required to present a social inquiry report for every child going before the Public Prosecution Office for Juveniles; the reports should include a recommendation on what action the prosecutor should take. In Cairo, social welfare experts assigned to the juvenile court prepare the report, a short standardized form, based on an interview conducted while the child is waiting to see the prosecutor.34 We observed three such interviews in July 2002. None of the interviews lasted more than five minutes. Seated social welfare experts conducted simultaneous interviews while children stood in close proximity to each other and to other social workers not conducting interviews. The social welfare experts did not ask children about police abuse or detention conditions, and interviews were within hearing of the guards who had brought them. Social welfare experts we spoke with said they knew the interview and standardized form were inadequate for a proper evaluation of the child's needs, but tended to see the form itself as the problem. "There used to be a longer social report form but not any more," one said.35
No more detailed study of the child's situation takes place unless the prosecution office decides to open an investigation. In that case, social welfare experts are required to prepare a second, slightly longer standardized report that should include information on the child's home environment.36 Social welfare experts told us that this proved difficult in cases involving children arrested for being "vulnerable to delinquency," because sometimes children had no address or gave incorrect addresses, making it impossible for the social welfare experts to find them once they were released. Even in the best of cases, the impact of such superficial reports is unclear, even to those who write them. "The reports that we do are largely collecting basic data, and so they don't really sway the judges," said one social welfare expert with more than a decade of experience at the Cairo Juvenile Court. Dr. `Azza Kuraym, a leading expert on juvenile justice, had similar findings based on her research for the National Center for Criminal and Social Studies: "We analyzed these reports and we found that most of the reports don't mention an opinion on the ruling and leave the decision to the court because the social welfare expert's opinion isn't enforceable and the court is the one that makes the decision so the social welfare expert sees that his view isn't valued and has come to neglect his role. Because whether or not he works, there is no result."37
Social welfare experts also cited poor training, low pay, and heavy caseloads as obstacles to their performing their tasks. "The social experts need better training," one said. "The Ministry of Insurance and Social Affairs gives social experts some training, but there are always new social experts starting work, and they don't always start at a time when there are training sessions. Of about eighty social experts attached to the court, about 75 percent are good social experts. The rest are either not appropriate for this kind of work or they don't have an education in social work and don't understand the basics of working with children. The pay is also very low, so the job does not attract the best people. The standard salary for a social expert is 150LE (U.S.$33) per month." The social welfare expert estimated his annual caseload to include an average of six hundred in-depth studies of children going before the court and 120 probation cases over the course of a year.38
Lack of Access to Legal Counsel
Even with a power of attorney, the lawyers do not have ready access to the full case file. Lawyers told us they were only allowed to make copies of the police investigative report and the prosecution office's interrogation report, and that the prosecution office secretary often rushed them or otherwise limited the amount of time they could spend reading case files. In addition, obtaining copies of police and prosecution office reports is both costly and extremely time consuming. "To get a copy of the police report or the prosecution office report you need to submit a request to the prosecution office. When you get a permit from the prosecution office you take it to al Azbekiya to pay a fee there and get a receipt. Then you come back to the prosecution office secretary, show your receipt, and ask for the police report or the prosecution office report. Since it is the original copy they won't give it to you, so you have to have a police guard take it and go to the nearest photocopy store, several blocks away. He takes it, makes the copies, and when he returns with them you have to get them stamped by the Ministry of Justice employee in charge. You pay by the number of pages, plus the cost of the photocopying, plus the cost of the tip to the guard who does the photocopying." 42
253 See for example the Center for Human Rights Legal Aid's report on children in conflict with the law, which draws on the cases of 561 children investigated by the center between 1994 and 1996. Center for Human Rights Legal Aid, Treatment of Juveniles in Egypt: Protection or Incubation of Criminals? (Cairo: Center for Human Rights Legal Aid, March 2001, in Arabic).
254 Human Rights Watch was denied access to Ministry of Insurance and Social Affairs social welfare institutions and observation houses where children accused or convicted of crimes or considered "vulnerable to delinquency" or "vulnerable to danger" may be held and only a handful of the children we spoke with had ever been ordered placed in these institutions. While these institutions are reputed to be significantly better than Ministry of Interior lockups and punishment facilities, based on our interviews with Ministry of Insurance and Social Affairs social welfare experts and representatives of nongovernmental organizations we believe that serious concerns about the treatment of children in these institutions warrant further investigation.
255 In addition to those government bodies already mentioned, this would include at a minimum the Ministries of Health and Education, the National Council for Childhood and Motherhood, the National Center for Social and Criminal Research; regional bodies working on children's issues such as the Arab Council for Childhood and Development; international intergovernmental organizations working on children's issues such as UNICEF, the International Labor Organization's International Program on the Elimination of Child Labor, and the U.N. Office for Drug Control and Crime Prevention; and local and international nongovernmental organizations promoting children's rights in Egypt.
0 Torture and ill-treatment by both State Security Investigation and regular police is particularly common during interrogation, but often is also used against persons who happen to be in police stations for reasons unrelated to any criminal suspicion, such as relatives of suspects, witnesses to police torture, or individuals involved in personal disputes with third parties known to police. For further information on torture and ill-treatment in police custody, see Human Rights Watch, "Egypt: Human Rights Background," A Human Rights Watch Backgrounder, October 2001, Human Rights Watch Letter to Prosecutor General Maher `Abd al Wahid, November 19, 2001, Human Rights Watch Letter to President Husni Mubarak, November 13, 1998; Middle East Watch, "Egypt: Hostage-taking and Intimidation by Security Forces," A Middle East Watch Report, January 1995; Middle East Watch, "Behind Closed Doors: Torture and Detention in Egypt," A Middle East Watch Report, May 1992; U.N. Committee against Torture, Conclusions and Recommendations: Egypt, November 20, 2002, CAT/C/XXIX/Misc.4; World Organization against Torture and Egyptian Organization for Human Rights, "Comments on the Report of the State of Egypt Concerning the Implementation of the UN Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment," November 2002 [online], http://www.eohr.org/report/2002/omtc1.htm (retrieved December 4, 2002) The Nadim Center for the Treatment and Psychological Rehabilitation of Victims of Violence, "Torture in Egypt: Facts and Testimony," (Cairo: Nadim Center, February 2002, in Arabic).
1 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 Egyptian Organization for Human Rights, Annual Report 2001 [online] http://www.eohr.org/ar/annual/2002/p2-1.htm (retrieved December 18, 2002).
2 The lack of detailed, publicly accessible data on complaints and resolutions make it difficult to assess fully the degree of impunity enjoyed by members of the police. In its state party report to the U.N. Committee Against Torture submitted in 1999, the government admitted to having received sixty-three complaints of torture committed by officials in 1993, seventy-one in 1994, and fifty-one in 1995. In all years, only about 10 to 15 percent of complaints resulted in the institution of criminal or administrative proceedings; the rest were put on file or closed for "lack of evidence." The government's 2001 report to the Committee against Torture does not include the total number of complaints, but does report the number of cases of torture, cruelty, ill-treatment, and unlawful detention by police that the Public Prosecution Office referred for "administrative sanction," "disciplinary trial," or "criminal trial": 49 in 1998, 52 in 1999, and 40 between January 1 and October 1, 2000. Government of Egypt, Third Periodic Report of the Government of Egypt to the United Nations Committee against Torture (New York: United Nations, January 28, 1999), U.N. doc CAT/C/34/Add.11 paras. 152-154; and Government of Egypt, Fourth Periodic Report of the Government of Egypt to the United Nations Committee against Torture (New York: United Nations, October 18, 2001), U.N. doc CAT/C/55/Add.6 paras. 124-128.
6 Egypt has yet to modify its domestic legislation to fully implement the Convention against Torture. Of particular concern are provisions in the Penal Code that punish torture only when it is committed or ordered by a public servant against a criminal suspect or when it consists of physical torture or death threats against a person illegally detained, and do not otherwise include acts that cause mental suffering, and provisions in the Code of Criminal Procedures that prevent private individuals from bringing criminal cases against public officials for abuses they commit during the course of their duties. Penal Code (Law 58 of 1937) [amended] (in Arabic), articles 125, 129, 282; and Code of Criminal Procedures, article 63. See Convention against Torture, article 1 for that treaty's definition of torture, which includes acts resulting in severe mental suffering, regardless of whether the victim is a criminal suspect.
9 See for example, U.N. Committee against Torture, Conclusions and Recommendations: Egypt, November 20, 2002, CAT/C/XXIX/Misc.4; 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; World Organization against Torture and Egyptian Organization for Human Rights, "Comments on the Report of the State of Egypt Concerning the Implementation of the UN Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment," November 2002 [online], http://www.eohr.org/report/2002/omtc1.htm (retrieved December 4, 2002); The Nadim Center for the Treatment and Psychological Rehabilitation of Victims of Violence, Torture in Egypt: Facts and Testimony, (Cairo: Nadim Center, February 2002, in Arabic); and The Human Rights Center for the Assistance of Prisoners, "The Citizen is Egyptian: Torture in Police Stations," June 6, 2002 [online] http://www.hrcap.org/Reports2/THEcitizenisEgyptian/thecitizenis_egyptian.htm (retrieved December 4, 2002).
14 One experienced social worker in the Cairo Juvenile Court told Human Rights Watch that he believed that the Ministry of Interior kept moving prosecutors and judges to keep them from developing relationships that might lead to corruption. Human Rights Watch interview with Khaled Mohammad Khass, Chief of the Cairo Public Prosecution Office for Juveniles, Cairo, Egypt, July 3, 2002; and Human Rights Watch interview with Mohammad `Abd al Radi Shehata, Ministry of Insurance and Social Affairs social welfare expert attached to the Cairo Juvenile Court, June 26, 2002.
19 These findings are generally consistent with UNICEF's analysis of 8,043 cases of children brought before the Cairo Public Prosecution Office for Juveniles on misdemeanor charges in 1992, including 4,365 children who met the 1996 Child Law's definition of children "vulnerable to delinquency." Of this latter group, the prosecution office's only action was to issue a warning to the parent or guardian in 76.1 percent of cases of begging; 84.9 percent of cases of sleeping on the street; 87.1 percent of cases of associating with vagrants; 89.7 percent of cases of selling trivial items; and 91.9 percent of cases of collecting rubbish. Dr. Adel Azer and Imam Bibars, Protecting Vulnerable Children: the Case of Juvenile Delinquents, Draft, (Cairo: UNICEF Egypt Country Office, 1998), pp. 18-25.
21 Felonies committed by children are punishable by up to ten years imprisonment, and misdemeanors by up to five years imprisonment. Child Law 12 of 1996, Official Gazette no. 13 [adjunct], March 28, 1996 (in Arabic), article 106, 107; Prime Ministerial Decree 3452 of 1997 enacting the Executive Statute of Child Law 12 of 1996, Official Gazette no. 48 [adjunct], November 27, 1997 (in Arabic), article 204.
22 The Child Law requires the head of the juvenile court or his delegate to visit observation homes, vocational training centers, social welfare institutions, vocational rehabilitation institutes, specialized hospitals and other agencies that cooperate with the court every three months. Child Law, article 134.
38 According to the social welfare expert, the probation cases ranged from five to forty per month, and required weekly visits to the child's home. Human Rights Watch interview with Mohammad `Abd al Radi Shehata, July 24, 2002.
40 The Hisham Mubarak Center for Legal Aid stopped providing legal aid to children at the juvenile courts because "we found that legal aid in itself was not sufficient because the children just ended up back on the street." Human Rights Watch interview with Ahmad Seif, director, Hisham Mubarak Center for Legal Aid, Cairo, Egypt, July 1, 2002.