The undersigned organisations express their deep concern over the children standing before trial in Egypt in the case known to the media as the Three Pyramids Hotel case, which is due for issuing a verdict on June 22, 2019. The Egyptain authorities are referring the papers of Kareem Hemeda Ali Hemeda, a juvenile defendant in case no. 45/2016 of State Security, to the mufti (Which is a final step prior to implementing executions)
The authorities arrested the 17-year-old from his place of residence on 1st of November, 2016. He was then forcibly disappeared for a period of time during which he was beaten and threatened to be electrocuted in order to confess the charges assigned to him, according to his statements in the investigation records. He remained in custody for over three years, which also happened to Asser Zahr-ElDin, another child defendant in the same case. Kareem Hemeda is accused of joining a group that violates the law, using violence as well as possession of weapons, ammunition and incendiary devices, in addition to accusations of funding the group he is accused of joining, which establishes the absurdity of the charges targeting children without investigations or real foundation, as children do not have an independent financial status, and cannot dispose of what they own freely without guardianship.
The case includes 26 defendants, including 11 children ranging between 15-18 years old awaiting verdicts issued by the Supreme State Security Court, as the Egyptian legislator insists on Article 22 of the Child Code which provides that children older than 15 years old can stand trial before criminal courts and supreme state security courts, if they were accomplices in the crime with adults, which results in issuing a number of erroneous verdicts on children in several cases. Such as aggravated and life imprisonment as well as execution, in addition to the detention of many children under the name of pre-trial detention, for durations longer than the period specified by law, to restrict their freedom.
This is not the first time where the Egyptian state violates child rights in the context of criminal justice; breaching Article 111 of the Egyptian Child Code as well as Article 37 of the Convention on the Rights of The Child which is binding to Egypt. Through referring the defendant’s papers to the Mufti (i.e. finalizing the death sentence) or even through wrongfully sentencing them, that happened before in 2014 in the cases of Matai and Al-Adwa, and later in the case of Owseem in 2018. Despite the fact that all the aforementioned sentences were subsequently overturned by the court and the sentences were reduced for those children, but that does not invalidate the terrors encountered by them after being subjected to the possibility of ending their lives through execution.
Accordingly, the undersigned organisations demand that the Egyptian authorities stop issuing death sentences, especially in the absence of the most basic standards for fair trial, such as in this case. As well as committing to guarantees of child rights within the context of criminal justice, and specifically protecting child Kareem Hamdeeda from the plausible threat to his life. We also demand the release of minor defendants in that case, so that their case will be referred to the Child’s Court.
In general, the Egyptian authorities must stop using the death penalty, which has become a reprisal tool, especially in light of the violations against the defendants. The signatory organizations call on the Egyptian authorities to review the articles of the Children’s Code which allow for trials with adults before criminal courts and state security courts, which contributes to the violation of children’s rights rather than protecting them.
- Egyptian Front for Human Rights
- Belady Center for Rights and Freedoms
- Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies
- El Nadeem
- The Freedom Initiative
- Committee for Justice
- Egyptian Commission for Rights and Freedoms (ECRF)
- Adala Center for Rights and Freedoms