Mechanisms for Investigating Arbitrary Arrest, Torture, and Ill-treatment
· The attorney general should instruct all prosecutors to give priority to investigating and prosecuting cases of arbitrary arrest, torture, or ill-treatment in police custody of children. These instructions should include a requirement that prosecutors conduct regular, unannounced inspections of all places of detention where children are held. The inspections should result in timely and thorough official inquiries into all complaints of violations of children's rights. The inspections should be conducted in teams that include physicians, juvenile court judges, and independent experts. All inspections should incorporate private interviews with each child present regarding all aspects of his or her treatment in custody, using standards specified in the United Nations Rules for the Protection of Juveniles Deprived of Their Liberty and the United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Administration of Juvenile Justice. The inspection team should pay special attention to instances of torture or cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment by police or other detainees. The prosecution office should submit prompt, written reports of its findings to the Ministries of Justice and Interior with a view to developing effective procedures to prevent abuses.
· In light of the failure of its current Inspection Unit to adequately investigate and punish abuses of children in police custody, the Ministry of Interior should take urgent steps to develop an independent, transparent, and effective mechanism to investigate complaints and take appropriate disciplinary action against any Interior Ministry officials who participate in, fail to report, or otherwise tolerate instances of arbitrary arrest, extortion, torture, or ill-treatment of children. This mechanism should be accessible to children and their advocates, including guardians, lawyers, and representatives of nongovernmental organizations, and should compile and make publicly accessible precise statistics on the number and type of complaints, the officers and police stations responsible, and the outcome of each investigation, including the details of any disciplinary actions. Disciplinary action should be made a permanent part of the officer's record and be considered a strong negative factor in any future decisions regarding promotion. Those found responsible for abuses should be removed from responsibility for all matters involving children.
· The Egyptian Parliament should amend the Penal Code and the Code of Criminal Procedures to be consistent with its obligations under the Convention against Torture and Other Forms of Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment. This should including adopting a definition of torture which fully corresponds to the definition in article 1 of the Convention, providing victims of torture and ill-treatment with direct access to the courts to lodge complaints against police, and raising penalties for illegal detention and use of cruelty by officials.
· The government should declare its recognition of the competence of the Committee against Torture under the Convention against Torture to receive and consider communications regarding violations of the Convention as specified in articles 21 and 22.
· The government should agree to the standing request since 1996 of the United Nations special rapporteur on the question of torture to conduct a visit to Egypt, and facilitate his visit by providing logistical support and access to police stations, social welfare institutions for children, Public Prosecution Offices for children, juvenile courts, and all places where children deprived of their liberty may be detained.
· The government should extend an invitation to the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention to visit Egypt at the earliest possible moment. The government should facilitate the Working Group's investigation by providing logistical support and access to child detainees and all places of detention where children are held as well as police, judicial personnel, social workers, and others working in the juvenile justice system.
Mechanisms for Preventing Abuses in Custody
· The Ministry of Justice should end its practice of short-term appointments of public prosecutors for juveniles and support the creation of a permanent, professional corps of prosecutors, judges, and social welfare experts working solely on juvenile justice matters. These professionals should be provided with ongoing training to enable them to carry out their responsibilities effectively, including training in child psychology, child welfare, and international human rights standards, and with the resources necessary to make informed decisions on children's best interests.
· The Ministry of Interior should make public nationwide statistics, updated annually, on police arrests of children broken down by age, gender, charge, and governorate; statistics on complaints of police abuse and their outcomes, broken down by age and gender of the complainant, the category of abuse, and the governorate and police station where the abuse occurred. This information should be used in developing mechanisms to prevent abuses.
· The Ministry of Interior and the Ministry of Insurance and Social Affairs should allow independent nongovernmental organizations full access to all places of detention where children are held, including adult and juvenile police lockups, observation houses, social welfare institutions, and reformatory or punishment institutions, with a view to monitoring the treatment of these children and their conditions of detention.
· The Ministry of Interior should institute mandatory training for police at all levels on the special needs and rights of children, including international standards for the administration of juvenile justice and the treatment of children deprived of their liberty.
· Whenever a child is arrested, arresting officers should immediately notify the child's guardians. If the guardians are unable or unwilling to assist in the child's defense the Ministry of Justice should provide the child with legal assistance.
· Sign, ratify, and implement without delay the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment establishing a system of regular visits by independent international and national bodies to places where people are deprived of their liberty.
· Fully implement the recommendations of the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child, including its recommendations to establish effective, child-friendly, and independent complaints mechanisms; develop facilities and programs for the physical and psychological recovery and social reintegration of children; and seek assistance from the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, the Center for International Crime Prevention, the International Network on Juvenile Justice, and UNICEF in bringing its law and practice into conformity with international standards on the administration of juvenile justice.
Conditions of Detention
· Ensure that conditions in all places of detention where children are held comply with international standards for the administration of juvenile justice and the treatment of children deprived of their liberty. In particular, children should be afforded prompt access to legal assistance and the right to challenge the legality of the deprivation of liberty, be examined by a physician immediately upon admission; be separated from adults and classified and segregated in a manner that ensures their safety and well being; have adequate access to appropriate food, medical care, bedding, and water and hygiene; and have opportunities for education and recreation. Special attention should be paid to the needs of girls, including ensuring that female guards are on duty at all times, all guards are adequately supervised, and facilities' layout does not isolate or otherwise expose girls to risk.
Children in Need of Protection
· Immediately end the practice of arresting children considered "vulnerable to delinquency," or "vulnerable to danger" and amend Child Law 12 of 1996 to ensure that no child is penalized for conduct that would not be penalized if committed by an adult. Bearing in mind that a large portion of children currently arrested under these provisions are children permanently or temporarily deprived of their family environment, or in whose best interests cannot be allowed to remain in that environment, ensure that they receive the special protection and assistance they are entitled to under the Convention on the Rights of the Child.
· Work with donors to develop and implement programs to improve the Ministry of Insurance and Social Affairs' ability to identify children in need of protection and provide appropriate assistance to them and their families. In developing these programs, the government should draw on the expertise of UNICEF, the International Labor Organization's International Program for the Elimination of Child Labor, local and international nongovernmental organizations working with children. The best interests of the child should be a primary consideration in all decisions concerning these children, and programs should take into account the views of the child.
· Take steps to ensure all children fully enjoy the right to free and compulsory primary education without discrimination, including enforcing existing compulsory education legislation and developing programs to prevent non-attendance, provide remedial programs for children who leave school early or are at risk of leaving school early, and provide for the associated costs of education (school fees, books, uniforms, and government health insurance) for such children.
· Implement provisions in the Child Law prohibiting children under age fourteen from working, and move quickly to fully implement International Labor Organization Convention 182 (Worst Forms of Child Labor Convention).
To Donor Governments
· Improving conditions in all facilities where children "vulnerable to delinquency," "vulnerable to danger," or accused or convicted of criminal offenses are held.
· Training police, prosecutors, judges, social welfare experts, and other staff members who have contact with children in the juvenile justice system on the special needs and rights of children.
· Developing programs to identify and provide assistance to children in need of protection and their families.
To the United Nations
· The United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention should include the treatment of children held in state custody for being "vulnerable to delinquency" and "vulnerable to danger" among the issues it investigates in any future visit to Egypt.