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Child sentencing laws should be amended: NCCM

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Sentencing restrictions should not apply in cases of ‘heinous’ crimes, says the Secretary General of the council

The five-year-old Zeina Arafa (Photo Public Domain)

The five-year-old Zeina Arafa
(Photo Public Domain)

Secretary-General of the National Council for Childhood and Motherhood Azza Ashmawi said that the law governing sentencing limits for minors should be amended.

According to MENA, Ashmawi has proposed a change to Article 111 of the Child Law of 2008 which stipulates that “no accused person shall be sentenced to death, life imprisonment, or forced labour if, at the time of committing the crime, he did not reach the age of 18 years.”

Ashmawi’s comments come in the wake of the Sunday sentencing of two minors to 15 years in prison, the maximum allowed by law.

Mohamed Casper, 17, and Alaa Gumaa Ahmed, 16, were found guilty in the Port Said Juvenile Criminal Court for the murder of five-year-old Zeina Arafa on 13 November. Based on investigations, Casper and Ahmed trapped Zeina on the roof of her building with the intent to sexually assault her. When she screamed, the boys threw her off the roof.

Ashmawi said that the judiciary should not be constrained to sentencing restrictions in cases of particularly “heinous” crimes, adding that the sentencing guidelines should only be strictly applied to minors under 15 years of age.

Fady Wagdy, attorney and co-founder of the Nidal Centre for Right and Freedoms, stressed the need to protect the laws that apply specifically to children.

“The point of the law is to rehabilitate children. It’s not about applying a punishment or penalty, but about bringing them back into society,” said Wagdy. “That’s why children have their own prosecution, their own court and their own places or rehabilitation.

“We don’t need more deterrent laws, if we apply the laws that we have now, they will be enough.”

About the author

Aaron T. Rose

Aaron T. Rose is an American journalist in Cairo. Follow him on Twitter: @Aaron_T_Rose


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