Urgent statement: The Public Prosecution must immediately release two asylum-seeking children and investigate their kidnapping and torture in 6th of October City

Photo: A screenshot from a circulating video showing the assault and beating of two asylum-seeking kids, December 4, 2022. Social Media ©
Photo: A screenshot from a circulating video showing the assault and beating of two asylum-seeking kids, December 4, 2022. Social Media ©

Sudanese activists reported a horrific assault in Masaken Othman, 6th of October City, Giza Governorate, where the people were surprised on Sunday, December 4, 2022, by several Egyptian residents stopping two kids residing in the same area and registered as asylum seekers from Sudan, and then tied them to an electric pole, and assaulted them by beating them in front of everyone – as the videos show – the aggressors doubted the reason for their presence in the place and they thought that they were there for theft.

According to the testimonies that the Refugees Platform in Egypt (RPE) documented from the residents of the area, the police came after people gathered around the shocking incident, and the police officers also confiscated the phones of people who tried to film what was happening.

According to a source close to the families of the two children, the reason for their presence in this area is that they went to work to clean the new buildings near the area, and one of them had gone to buy food while the other waited for him. But “the assaulters did not check, and they took them under threat and beatings and tied them to an electric pole in front of everyone, and no one could stop them”. 

According to the same source, the police took the two kids to the “Masaken Othman Police Station” and from there they were transferred to the police station to which the incident occurred. The two children were presented to the Public Prosecution Office in 6th of October City, but the families were not allowed to know the charges against them and the reason for their detention. Although a UNHCR lawyer told the family that he was following up on the case, he did not explain to them any information about the reason for detaining the kids.

According to one of the witnesses, the kids’ assaulters handed over sharp tools to the police, which they said they had seized with the children, claiming that they intended to use them in acts of theft, while no theft occurred and they were not accused of stealing a specific thing.

According to the testimony of one of the families of the two children, registered as a refugee with the UNHCR in Egypt, “they were not allowed to communicate with their imprisoned son, who was born in 2006, and they also stated that the police station refused the family’s visit to the child.” At the same time, the family was not informed of the Public Prosecution’s decision regarding their imprisoned son.

The two families said that they were not allowed to visit their children in the police station, and one of the families explained that they were able to see their son in the hallway of the Public Prosecution Office, handcuffed with other suspects, and the guards did not allow them to communicate with him.

RPE stands in solidarity with the kids who are victims of this brutal and deliberate assault, whose impact will remain on their lives for a long time, and we wish them justice and an overcoming of this ordeal.

In the same regard, we call on the Egyptian authorities, represented by the Egyptian Public Prosecution, to immediately release the two children and conduct an immediate investigation of the incident and order an arrest warrant and bring the accused and take legal measures against them in a way that guarantees justice for kids and their families and reassures refugees in Egypt. And we call upon the UNHCR Egypt, organizations supporting refugees in Egypt, and volunteer Egyptian lawyers to provide the necessary legal and psychological support to the victims and their families.

In the context of today’s incident, the Refugees Platform in Egypt (RPE) warns of the effects of the rise in hate speech and incitement to violence against refugee communities in Egypt. During the past two years, RPE has documented many racist and physical attacks and the spread of violence as a phenomenon against communities of African residing in Egypt, especially the most vulnerable as women, children, migrant workers without official contracts, irregular immigrants or undocumented migrants.

The Masaken Othman area of the 6th of October City was among the areas that recorded the most racist violations and physical attacks against refugees and migrants of African nationalities, and it is the same area where the aforementioned incident took place last Sunday and other incidents of violence. The most painful of which was the killing of the Sudanese child Muhammad Hassan. He was stabbed by an Egyptian elderly man inside his house in October 2020. 

In May 2021 the Egyptian police arrested four aggressors who had kidnapped South Sudanese children and forced them to clean the house under torture and sexual assault and forcibly shave their hair, and the prosecution ordered their imprisonment, and on November 24, 2022, Human Rights Watch, in cooperation with the Refugees Platform in Egypt (RPE), published a report showing the high incidence of sexual violence against refugee women in Egypt without justice or protection.

This matter raises concerns about this region and other regions within Greater Cairo, which recorded a significant and continuous rise in complaints and reports of racist attacks. RPE fears that there is a prevailing pattern in dealing with refugees within these areas, underestimating their security, and deliberately impunity for criminals – It has also been documented – which exposes refugees to a repeated pattern of psychological and physical attacks. 

RPE calls on the Egyptian authorities to allow researchers, civil society organizations and volunteer groups to work in these areas without restrictions or targeting to study and research and propose appropriate solutions for policies and practices to provide sustainable development in these areas and contribute to social integration. It also calls on the security authorities to allow victims to report similar incidents and investigate them, and to provide paths to justice and litigation, which helps make a safe environment, especially for women and minors and unaccompanied minors.

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