Eight rights groups demanded Monday an independent and thorough investigation into allegations of torture and ill-treatment by security forces at the Kom Al-Deka juvenile detention facility in Alexandria.
In a joint statement released Monday, the groups reported that 48 students, aged 14-17, are currently being tortured by security forces that are tasked with securing the facility.
“The undersigned organisations demand the opening of a serious, independent and comprehensive investigation into the allegations of torture and ill-treatment by the security forces,” adding that detainees should be allowed to meet with forensic investigators “to demonstrate their physical and psychological scars, and hold those responsible accountable”.
According to residents of the institution, as well as the lawyers defending them, security forces attacked the children in their dorm that is used to house political detainees. Security forces allegedly tied the detainees’ hands behind their backs, beat them, then walked on their backs.
After the incident, 20 of the boys were moved to a penal institution in Cairo. Their families were not informed of the move and were unable to make contact with them for a number of days.
A father of one of the detainees said his son was “exposed to danger in Kom Al-Deka, where he was beaten, threatened, intimidated [and] tortured,” adding that he “was attacked by forces of the [Ministry of] Interior with the help of some of the [detained] criminals”.
According to statements made to the rights groups, lawyers witnessed the detained children with bruises, contusions and redness which suggest that the children were assaulted and beaten. Some of the children also alleged sexual assault.
“The undersigned organisations reiterate that these events indicate the failure of the authorities concerned to carry out their duties in monitoring places of detention, and to ensure that detainees are not subjected to torture or excessive use of force. The Wadi El-Natrun Prison has witnessed the events and similar allegations at the end of the month of May, has not been investigated,” the statement concludes.
Among the signatories are The Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights, The Arab Network for Human Rights Information, El-Nadeem Centre for the Rehabilitation of Victims of Violence and Torture, and The Association for Freedom of Thought and Expression.
Accusations of mistreatment and torture have surfaced before at the Alexandria juvenile detention facility.
In mid-March, security forces allegedly fired tear gas into a dorm full of minors and attacked protesting parents who refused to have their children moved from the facility to a detention centre for adults.
Five of the parents were arrested, and three were subsequently released. One of the released parents had a bullet in his leg.