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Children being detained, tortured in Egypt: HRW

Children participating in protests during the Egyptian Revolution [JURIST backgrounder] have been subject to police detention and torture, according to a recent finding [press release] released by Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] Tuesday. The findings were based on numerous interviews of detained children, their families and lawyers. HRW condemned the situation in Egypt for violating national and international laws that require children to be separated from adults during different stages of legal proceedings. It was discovered that most of the arrested children were detained alongside adults and were subject to trials in adult courts rather than the juvenile justice system. HRW says officials also have failed to respect families' right to visit and have given incorrect information about the children's location. Children were reportedly questioned before they were appointed counsel, violating numerous national and international laws. The report claims that 20 percent of all arrested person during five protests were children under age of 18. HRW also noted that although Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi [BBC profile; JURIST news archive] issued a decree [JURIST report] last month which would end the prosecution of children, it only extended to those arrested before the end of June, excluding children who were arrested during the September protests. HRW says that at least 136 children were arrested during those protests.

There have been several controversial trials since the end of the Egyptian revolution. At the end of September Egyptian Defence Minister General Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi ordered a reduced sentence [JURIST report] for a group of military officers who took part in opposition protests in April 2011. There were 22 officers, known as the April 8 Officers, arrested for their participation in protests in support of the revolution and against the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) [Al Jazeera archive] and against retired Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi Soliman. Also in September, an Egyptian court upheld the death sentences for 14 Islamists while another court sentenced [JURIST reports] former prime minister Ahmed Nazif to three years for corruption. In August the former secretary for Mubarak's political party, Safwat El-Sherif, was referred to a criminal court [JURIST report] on corruption charges. He was accused of having abused his office by obtaining real estate at discounted prices and illegally obtaining $49.2 million.

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