Egypt: Repeated Torture of a 15-Year-Old Boy During His Secret Detention

Egyptian boy Asser Abdelwarth On 12 January 2016, Asser Mohammed Zahr Aldeen Abdelwarth, a 15-year-old boy, disappeared after the police arrested him at his home in Giza, leading Alkarama to send an urgent appeal to the United Nations Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances (WGEID). His family eventually learned that he had reappeared in detention and was able to see him on 23 February. During their visit, the 15-year-old boy told them that he had been repeatedly tortured by members of the Homeland Security while he was secretly detained, prompting Alkarama to send an urgent appeal to the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture (SRT) to ask the Egyptian authorities to investigate his reports and to guarantee his physical and mental health.

On 19 February 2016, his relatives were told that Asser had reappeared in the Central Security Forces Camp located at kilometer 10.5 on Alexandria Road. During their visit on 23 February, he reported having been tortured on several occasions during his month of secret detention in a Homeland Security facility of 6th of October City, in Cairo’s outskirts. He testified having been stripped of his clothes, electrocuted on various parts of his body and beaten up by Homeland Security officers for several days. According to Asser, he was tortured to force him to confess that he participated to an attack that took place on 7 January 2016 against a bus transporting Israeli tourists, in front of the Three Pyramids Hotel in Cairo. The 15-year-old student strongly denied any involvement in these events, claiming that he did not even know where this hotel was.

Finally, he told his parents that he had been interrogated on 9 February before the State Security Prosecutor, without the assistance of a lawyer. His family fears that he could now be charged for crimes that he did not commit and face trial before a criminal court. In the meantime, Asser remains detained in the Security Forces Camp and could be again subjected to torture, either by officers or by the adult criminals detained with him.

“While the authorities attempt to close organisations that provide assistance to victims of torture, this practice remains widespread and systematic, nurtured by a culture of impunity in this country, said Thomas-John Guinard, Regional Legal Officer for the Nile at Alkarama. Secretly detaining and torturing a young vulnerable boy to force him to confess to crimes he did not commit is appalling and calls for effective measures from the authorities to punish the authors of these crimes.”

In this sense, Alkarama solicited the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture regarding the case of Asser, asking him to intervene with the Egyptian authorities in order to guarantee the young boy’s mental and physical health and to launch prompt, impartial and independent investigation into his reports of torture. Alkarama calls upon the Egyptian authorities to launch a national action plan aiming at effectively abolishing the practice of torture and to ensure justice for victims.

Source: All Africa