Feb. 4 (Bloomberg) -- Egyptian authorities have ignored requests to provide cancer treatment for a 14-year-old Egyptian boy being detained, while another was forced to watch a man being raped, amid a crackdown on protesters, three human rights groups and the father of one of the children said.
The cases are part of what activists say has become a systematic rounding-up of minors during demonstrations. Egypt’s security forces have also come under fire after footage shot and aired during Feb. 1 demonstrations showed a man stripped naked and being beaten by authorities.
The video of Hamada Saber’s alleged assault renewed criticism of the Interior Ministry, with opponents of President Mohamed Mursi arguing he has allowed police to revert to the same tactics used by his predecessor, Hosni Mubarak.
At least 65 children were detained in the wake of Jan. 25 protests and clashes marking the second anniversary of the uprising against Mubarak, according to Nazlie Hussein, a founder of the No to Military Trials for Civilians group, a human rights organization started after the Supreme Military Council assumed power after Mubarak’s ouster.
Minors detained in Cairo and Alexandria “were denied food and drinks, and were subjected to all kinds of beating and torture” while in custody, Hussein said today. They weren’t allowed to call their parents, many of whom spent six days searching for their children, she said.
Cases of minors being detained and abused in custody were also documented by the Hisham Mubarak Law Center and the Egyptian Organization for Human Rights.
Freedom of Expression
Prime Minister Hisham Qandil told reporters today the government was committed to freedom of expression and peaceful protest and was not, as portrayed by the media, one that condones the killing of its citizens by authorities.
Hussein said another minor, a 14-year-old boy, remains in custody in Alexandria after being arrested on Jan. 27 during clashes near the security forces headquarters. The boy is late for his chemotherapy, she said, citing his parents.
Hussein said lawyers had submitted requests for the boy to receive treatment, and were notified by police they had not received authorization to provide him with chemotherapy.
Interior Ministry spokesman Hani Abdel-Latif’s mobile phone was turned off and calls to the ministry’s press office went unanswered.
Hassan Yassin, a spokesman for the prosecutor general, said they had received reports of only two alleged minors in custody in Alexandria, including the boy suffering from cancer. Prosecutors are currently investigating the reports and the ages of those in detention, he said by phone.
“It’s not at all permissible, under any circumstances, to keep in custody a child under the age of 15,” Yassin said.
Egyptian police and military officers have arrested and detained more than 300 children during protests in Cairo over the past year, in some cases beating or torturing them, New York-based Human Rights Watch said in a November report.
“My son was beaten” and insulted by police and was forced to watch a young man in his 20s being sodomized “in front of his eyes in the detention cell,” Taiseer Mohamed Ali, the father of a 12-year-old who spent five days in lock-up, said by phone. It was not immediately possible to independently verify the accounts.
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