VIII. INTERNATIONAL STANDARDS
Egypt has ratified the principal international treaties that protect the human rights of children in police custody or otherwise deprived of their liberty: the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), and the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (Convention against Torture).43 In addition to these treaties, a number of United Nations documents provide authoritative guidance under international law for interpreting these treaties' provisions relevant to the treatment of children in conflict with the law.44
Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment
Many of the instances of police abuse, extortion, and acquiescence in abuse by other detainees we document in this report constitute cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment; in some instances this ill-treatment may rise to the level of torture. Police use of electric shocks and beatings with batons, whips, hoses, or other implements that cause children severe pain or suffering and are intended to punish or intimidate children constitute torture. Due to the terrifying nature of custodial sexual abuse and violence against children described in this report, amplified by children's utter lack of protection or recourse, such abuse and violence, whether by detainees with police acquiescence or by police themselves, is inherently intimidating and result in severe physical and mental suffering, constituting torture.
In cases where beatings and harassment of children by police or other detainees do not rise to the level of torture, they may nevertheless produce a level of physical or mental suffering that constitute cruel or inhuman treatment or punishment. Similarly, police verbal harassment of boys and girls that causes or is intended to cause gross humiliation or an insult to a child's dignity violates Egypt's obligation to prevent degrading treatment. When poor layout of girls' detention facilities and lack of supervision of guards significantly contribute to high rates of police sexual abuse or violence against girls in their custody, these practices further violate girls' right to protection from discrimination based on sex and their right to equal protection before the law.48
Finally, violence and exploitation of children in custody by police or other detainees violate children's right under the Convention on the Rights of the Child to protection from "all forms of physical or mental violence, injury or abuse, neglect or negligent treatment, maltreatment or exploitation, including sexual abuse, while in the care of parent(s), legal guardian(s) or any other person who has the care of the child."49 Insofar as many children "vulnerable to delinquency" are by definition entitled to "special protection and assistance provided by the state," these abuses are particularly egregious.50
Arbitrary and Unlawful Arrest and Detention
Arrest campaigns that round up large numbers of children without distinction are by their nature arbitrary and unlawful, as are arrests intended to extort money or information from children or to force children to leave one neighborhood for another and arrests that target children whose accent, dress, or location may identify them as being originally from areas outside of Cairo. When police fail to present detained children before the Public Prosecution Office within twenty-four hours, or when prosecutors fail to conduct adequate reviews of the circumstances and legality of children's arrest and detention, these deprivations of liberty are also arbitrary and unlawful. In addition, this lack of prosecutorial review undermines children's ability to document unlawful arrest or detention, and thus undermines their ability to seek compensation.
Even when arrest or detention of children "vulnerable to delinquency" is not conducted in an arbitrary manner, it may still be unlawful if children are denied their procedural rights. The Convention on the Rights of the Child specifies that deprivation of liberty of children "shall be used only as a measure of last resort and for the shortest appropriate period of time," and that "[e]very child deprived of his or her liberty shall have the right to prompt access to legal and other appropriate assistance, as well as the right to challenge the legality of the deprivation of his or her liberty before a court or other competent, independent and impartial authority, and to a prompt decision on any such action."53
Finally, Egypt's Child Law and police practice toward children "vulnerable to delinquency" and "vulnerable to danger" effectively punish children for conduct that would not be a criminal offense if committed by adults, and for which existing criminal legislation on begging and vagrancy exempt children from punishment. As such they violate the U.N. Guidelines for the Prevention of Juvenile Delinquency, which specify, "In order to prevent further stigmatization, victimization and criminalization of young persons, legislation should be enacted to ensure that any conduct not considered an offence or not penalized if committed by an adult is not considered an offence and not penalized if committed by a young person."56
Classifying and Segregating Detainees
Egypt's routine mixing of children with unrelated adult criminal detainees and with children of different ages, backgrounds, and legal status during detention and transport places children at risk of torture, ill-treatment, and exploitation, and violates children's right to be held separately from adults and to be treated with humanity and respect and in a manner which takes into account their needs. Such practices also violate children's right to protection from "all forms of physical or mental violence, injury or abuse, neglect or negligent treatment, maltreatment or exploitation, including sexual abuse, while in the care of parent(s), legal guardian(s) or any other person who has the care of the child."60 Insofar as many children "vulnerable to delinquency" or "vulnerable to danger" are by definition entitled to "special protection and assistance provided by the state," these abuses are particularly egregious.61
Right to Privacy and Minimum Standards for Treatment During Transport
The Convention on the Rights of the Child and the ICCPR prohibit arbitrary or unlawful interference with a child's privacy.62 This prohibition, along with other international law guarantees of treatment with dignity and respect and protection from cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment, underlie the minimum standards for privacy and transport set forth in the U.N. Standard Minimum Rules for the Administration of Juvenile Justice, the U.N. Rules for the Protection of Juveniles Deprived of their Liberty, and the U.N. Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners. These minimum standards require that every child's privacy be respected at all stages of the juvenile justice process, and that safeguards be taken during transport to shield children from public view and protect them from insult, curiosity and publicity in any form.63 Children should only be transported "in conveyances with adequate ventilation and light, [and] in conditions that should in no way subject them to hardship or indignity."64 Instruments of restraint should "only be used in exceptional cases, when all other control methods have failed... should not cause humiliation or degradation, and should be used restrictively and only for the shortest possible period of time."65 These rights are violated by Egypt's routine use of means of transport that lack adequate ventilation, light, or secure seating and expose children to public scrutiny and censure, and its practice of exposing children bound in handcuffs or ropes to public view by making them ride public transport or walk on public streets. In many instances documented in this report, these means of transport also constitute cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment.
The U.N. Rules require that children deprived of their liberty be provided with adequate preventive and remedial medical care, "including dental, ophthalmological and mental health care, as well as pharmaceutical products and special diets as medically indicated."67 As part of that care, every child has a right to be examined by a physician immediately upon admission to a detention facility.68 Medical services should also seek to detect and treat any physical or mental illness, substance abuse, or other condition that may hinder the child's integration into society.69 Treatment of substance abuse should include specialized drug abuse prevention and rehabilitation programs administered by qualified personnel.70 Every detention facility should have immediate access to adequate medical facilities and staff trained in preventive health care and the handling of medical emergencies, and a medical officer should promptly examine every child who is ill or shows symptoms of physical or mental difficulties.71
Overcrowding, Food, Water, and Hygiene
International standards require that children deprived of their liberty "have the right to facilities and services that meet all the requirements of health and human dignity," and to "be provided with separate and sufficient bedding, which should be clean when issued, kept in good order, and changed often enough to ensure cleanliness."73 Children should be provided with adequate bathing and shower installations to enable every prisoner to bathe "as frequently as necessary for general hygiene...but at least once a week in a temperate climate."74 Children should also have access to clean drinking water at all times, and access to sanitary installations as necessary.75
The U.N. Rules for the Protection of Juveniles Deprived of their Liberty further provide that children in detention must receive food at normal meal times and of a quality and quantity to satisfy the standards of health and hygiene.76 Egypt's failure to provide food to children in adult police lockups both violates this provision and places children at risk of extortion and exploitation by guards and adult detainees. While authorities provide food to children at the al Azbekiya juvenile lockup, officials' statements that the same meals are provided to all children, regardless of age or health status, and children's testimony that food is often substandard in quality and quantity suggest that these meals may not meet children's needs.77
Education, Recreation, and Work
Finally, international standards for children deprived of their liberty require that children be provided, wherever possible, with opportunities for remunerated labor that will enhance the possibility of their finding suitable employment upon their release. In no instance should labor be imposed as a disciplinary sanction, nor should violence or the threat of violence be used to coerce children to engage in unremunerated labor.79 Discriminatory assignment of onerous cleaning tasks to girl detainees further violates girls' right to protection from discrimination based on sex.80
43 Convention on the Rights of the Child, adopted November 20, 1989, G.A. Res. 44/25, U.N. Doc. A/RES/44/25 (entered into force September 2, 1990); the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), adopted December 16, 1966, G.A. Res. 2200A (XXI), 999 U.N.T.S. 171 (entered into force March 23, 1976), Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, adopted December 10, 1984, G.A. Res. 39/46, U.N. Doc. A/RES/39/46, 1465 U.N.T.S. 85 (entered into force June 26, 1987).
44 See the United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Administration of Juvenile Justice (The Beijing Rules), G.A. Res. 40/33, annex, 40 U.N. GAOR Supp. (no. 53), U.N. Doc A/40/53 (1985); the United Nations Guidelines for the Prevention of Juvenile Delinquency (The Riyadh Guidelines), G.A. Res. 45/112, annex, 45 U.N.GAOR Supp. (no. 49A), U.N. Doc A/45/49/ (1990); the United Nations Rules for the Protection of Juveniles Deprived of their Liberty (The U.N. Rules), G.A. Res. 45/113, annex, 45 U.N. GAOR Supp. (no. 49A), U.N. Doc. A/45/49 (1990); the United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners, adopted by the First United Nations Congress on the Prevention of Crime and the Treatment of Offenders, held at Geneva in 1955, and approved by the Economic and Social Council by its resolution 663 C (XXIV) of 31 July 1957 and 2076 (LXII) of May 13, 1977; the Basic Principles for the Treatment of Prisoners, G.A. Res. 45/111, December 14, 1990; and the Body of Principles for the Protection of All Persons under Any Form of Detention or Imprisonment, G.A. Res. 43/173, December 9, 1988.
45 Convention against Torture, article 1.
46 The Convention against Torture article 16. Article 37 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child and article 7 of the ICCPR also prohibit torture and cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment. U.N. Human Rights Committee General Comment 20 concerning torture or cruel treatment or punishment (Forty-fourth session, 1992) provides authoritative guidance on the implementation of ICCPR article 7.
47 ICCPR General Comment 20 concerning prohibition of torture and cruel treatment or punishment, para. 5.
48 Convention on the Rights of the Child, article 2(1) and ICCPR article 2(1).
49 Convention on the Rights of the Child, article 19.
50 Article 20(1) of the Convention on the Rights of the Child states, "A child temporarily or permanently deprived of his or her family environment, or in whose own best interests cannot be allowed to remain in that environment, shall be entitled to special protection and assistance provided by the State."
51 ICCPR, articles 9(1) and 9(3); and Convention on the Rights of the Child, article 37(b). The U.N. Human Rights Committee, in its authoritative interpretation of the article 9 right to liberty and security, states that article 9(1) is "applicable to all deprivations of liberty, whether in criminal cases or in other cases such as, for example, mental illness, vagrancy, drug addiction, educational purposes, immigration control, etc." U.N. Human Rights Committee, General Comment 8: Right to liberty and security of persons (Art. 9), Sixteenth session, 30/06/82.
53 Convention on the Rights of the Child, articles 37(b) and 37(d).
54 Convention on the Rights of the Child, article 3(1).
55 The Convention on the Rights of the Child allows for this right to be exercised "either directly, or through a representative or an appropriate body, in a manner consistent with the procedural rules of national law." Convention on the Rights of the Child, article 12.
56 The Riyadh Guidelines, para. 56. See also Committee on the Rights of the Child, Concluding Observations of the Committee on the Rights of the Child: Chile, U.N. Doc. CRC/C/15/Add.173 (2002), para. 53; and Committee on the Rights of the Child, Concluding Observations of the Committee on the Rights of the Child: Nigeria, U.N. Doc. CRC/C/15/Add.61 (1996), para. 21.
57 Article 10(1) of the ICCPR states: "All persons deprived of their liberty shall be treated with humanity and with respect for the inherent dignity of the human person." Article 10(2)(a) states: "Accused persons shall, save in exceptional circumstances, be segregated from convicted persons and shall be subject to separate treatment appropriate to their status as unconvicted persons."
58 Convention on the Rights of the Child article 37(c) states: "Every child deprived of liberty shall be treated with humanity and respect for the inherent dignity of the human person, and in a manner which takes into account the needs of persons of his or her age. In particular, every child deprived of liberty shall be separated from adults unless it is considered in the child's best interest not to do so and shall have the right to maintain contact with his or her family through correspondence and visits, save in exceptional circumstances." ICCPR article 10(2)(b) states: "Accused juvenile persons shall be separated from adults and brought as speedily as possible for adjudication," while article 10(3) requires that "[j]uvenile offenders shall be segregated from adults and be accorded treatment appropriate to their age and legal status."
59 The U.N. Rules, article 28.
60 Convention on the Rights of the Child, article 19.
61 "A child temporarily or permanently deprived of his or her family environment, or in whose own best interests cannot be allowed to remain in that environment, shall be entitled to special protection and assistance provided by the State." Convention on the Rights of the Child, article 20(1).
62 Article 16 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, following closely the language of article 17 of the ICCPR, states "(1) No child shall be subjected to arbitrary or unlawful interference with his or her privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to unlawful attacks on his or her honour and reputation. (2) The child has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks."
63 The Beijing Rules state, "The juvenile's right to privacy shall be respected at all stages in order to avoid harm being caused to her or him by undue publicity or by the process of labelling." The Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners state, "When the prisoners are being removed to or from an institution, they shall be exposed to public view as little as possible, and proper safeguards shall be adopted to protect them from insult, curiosity and publicity in any form." The Beijing Rules, para. 8.1; and The Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners, article 45(1).
64 Similarly, the U.N. Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners state, "The transport of prisoners in conveyances with inadequate ventilation or light, or in any way which would subject them to unnecessary physical hardship, shall be prohibited." U.N. Rules, para. 26; and U.N. Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners, article 45(2).
70 "Juvenile detention facilities should adopt specialized drug abuse prevention and rehabilitation programmes administered by qualified personnel. These programmes should be adapted to the age, sex and other requirements of the juveniles concerned, and detoxification facilities and services staffed by trained personnel should be available to drug- or alcohol-dependent juveniles." U.N. Rules, para. 54.
72 Convention on the Rights of the Child, article 37(c).
73 The U.N. Rules, paras. 30 and 33.
74 The Standard Minimum Rules, article 13.
75 The U.N. Rules for the Protection of Juveniles Deprived of their Liberty requires that clean drinking water "be available to every juvenile at any time," and that sanitary installations "be so located and of a sufficient standard to enable every juvenile to comply, as required, with their physical needs in privacy and in a clean and decent manner." The U.N. Rules, paras. 34, 37.
76 The United Nations Rules for the Protection of Juveniles Deprived of their Liberty, the authoritative statement of minimum standards for the treatment of children in detention, states, "Every detention facility shall ensure that every juvenile receives food that is suitably prepared and presented at normal meal times and of a quality and quantity to satisfy the standards of dietetics, hygiene and health and, as far as possible, religious and cultural requirements. Clean drinking water should be available to every juvenile at any time." The U.N. Rules, para. 37.
77 Assuming that the loaves of bread given to the children are about 130 grams in weight (a standard used in food subsidy programs in Egypt) and that they are made with whole wheat flour, this diet offers about 2020 calories, about 75 grams of protein, and about 17 milligrams of iron per day. Standards for nutrient requirements of adolescents vary from source to source, but these totals would meet the daily requirement for protein and iron set by most experts but would fall short of the recommended calorie intake, which for boys age fifteen to eighteen years, for example, would be about 3000 calories, according to some sources. For girls aged eleven to eighteen, the recommended intake is about 2200 calories per day. If the bread loaves received by the children were smaller or made with refined white flour, this diet would likely be deficient in both calories and iron. See United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service, Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, [online] http://www.nal.usda.gov/fnic/cgi-bin/nut_search.pl, (retrieved October 9, 2002); and United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization/World Health Organization, Handbook on Human Nutrient Requirements (Rome: United Nations, 2001).
78 The U.N. Rules, paras. 15, 38-47.
80 Convention on the Rights of the Child, article 2(1) and ICCPR article 2(1).