Human Rights Watch on Monday accused Egyptian security forces of torturing children in jails, saying it was typical of “the brutal security tactics” employed by the North African state.
In a 43-page report, HRW and Egyptian rights group Belady documented alleged abuses against 20 children between the ages of 12 and 17.
They called on the United States, France and other European countries to halt arms support to Egyptian security forces “until Egypt takes measurable steps to end the abuses and hold accountable those responsible”.
The rights groups accused the police, the interior ministry’s National Security Agency and the military of wide-ranging abuses including arbitrary arrests, enforced disappearances, beatings, waterboarding and electrocution.
Egypt’s interior ministry could not be immediately reached by AFP for comment but authorities systematically deny allegations of torture in prisons.
“The children’s accounts of torture and other abuse are typical of the brutal security tactics Human Rights Watch, Belady and other organisations have documented against children and adults detained for alleged political or security offenses in hundreds of cases since 2014,” the groups said.
One minor interviewed in the report called Belal B. was 17 years old when National Security officers arrested and put him in solitary confinement at a Cairo police station.
“I knew nothing about my parents and they knew nothing about me,” he was quoted saying in the report. He said officers “tied me to a chair for three days” causing severe pain.
Fifteen of the 20 children whose testimonials were compiled in the report said they were tortured in pretrial detention, usually during interrogation while held incommunicado. Others reported torture with electricity including with stun guns.
“Children are describing being waterboarded and electrocuted on their tongues and genitals, and yet Egypt’s security forces are facing no consequences,” said Bill Van Esveld, HRW associate children’s rights director.
The report also documented how children were held with adults in overcrowded cells and denied adequate food as well as medical care.
The allegations come at a time when activists have called on authorities to release prisoners, fearing the spread of the coronavirus in jails.