Calls on Egypt to release a child forcibly disappeared at 12

The human rights organization DAWN has once again called on the Egyptian government to release Abdullah Boumediene who was forcibly disappeared from Sinai when he was just 12 years old.

Abdullah has spent four years in prison and has not seen his family since he was transferred to Al Arish Police Station in December 2018. He had been kidnapped from his home in the North Sinai capital of Arish in December 2017, forcibly disappeared and then taken to Katiba 101 Police Station.

Rights organization We Record has previously reported that Abdullah was interrogated as though he was an adult and accused of joining a terror group despite being only 12 years old and not having a lawyer present.

Amnesty International has previously reported that he was tortured.

Despite a children’s court ordering his release in 2018, he was forcibly disappeared and “recycled” onto a new case with fresh charges brought against him.

Human Rights Watch (HRW) has said that arbitrary detention and abuse of children in Egypt is widespread and systematic.

Under Egyptian law, children are not supposed to be detained with adults, yet they regularly are. They are kept in squalid conditions with little food and water.

These abuses are particularly hard to track in the Sinai Peninsula where the government has imposed a blackout and severely restricted the entry of journalists and rights workers making their cases difficult to highlight.

However, video evidence has emerged showing unarmed civilians being extrajudicially killed by the Egyptian army in Sinai and then portrayed as terrorists online. War crimes, including against children, have been documented.

Child prisoners have mental health issues for life, long after their release, including PTSD, suicidal thoughts and perpetual feelings of isolation.

In March the Egyptian Network for Human Rights reported that Abdullah had attempted suicide in prison by swallowing a large number of pills after not being able to bear being locked up and the conditions he was being held in.

Abdullah’s father has also been forcibly disappeared and it is not yet known where he is, whilst his brother Abdulrahman has been reported to have been extrajudicially killed by the government.

The child’s story

Abdullah Boumediene is a young boy who was forcibly disappeared in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula at 12 has recently turned 15 away from his family, two years after he was forcibly disappeared.

Bomadeen was 12 when he was kidnapped from his home in the North Sinai capital of Arish on 17 December 2017, forcibly disappeared, and then taken to Katiba 101 Police Station.

In July 2018 he appeared in front of the prosecution for the first time.

According to the rights group We Record, Abdullah was interrogated as though he were an adult, without a lawyer being present, and accused of joining a terror group under case 570, which was classified as a state security case.

In Egypt, political prisoners are regularly charged with being part of a terror network.

Egypt has been fighting a protracted war on terror in the Sinai Peninsula under which civilians have been forcibly disappeared, killed and forced out of their homes.

Abdullah was detained in solitary confinement in Al-Azbakeya Police Station for almost 100 days and, according to Amnesty International, he was tortured.

On 26 December 2018 Abdullah was released after a Children’s Court in Abbasiya ruled that he should be. But as he was being transferred to Al-Arish Police Station on 10 January 2019 he was forcibly disappeared and has not been seen since.

Egypt regularly detains children who are not spared violations whilst incarcerated. During the September protests authorities detained 77 children between 10 and 15, mostly from Upper Egypt.

Under Egyptian law, children are not supposed to be detained with adults, yet they are often held together in overcrowded cells and without enough food.

Ibrahim was just 14 when he was arrested from his home, also in Arish, two years ago. To this day, his mother and siblings do not know where he is being held.

Child prisoners suffer from PTSD, anxiety, depression, suicidal thoughts and nightmares when they are eventually released.