The Egyptian Coalition on Children’s Rights (ECCR) reported on Wednesday that security forces have been using children as human shields in clashes along the Nile Corniche in Downtown Cairo.
The report stated that during clashes on the Corniche, police officers were putting children as young as 12 in the front lines to repel attacks by protesters, often arming these children with stones and Molotov cocktails.
ECCR stressed that such action from the Ministry of Interior serves only to push the country towards chaos and highlights the complete absence of the rule of law. The report also said that the ministry is also responsible for torturing and arbitrarily arresting children, placing them in detention facilities unsuitable to hold minors. The report said that such acts, continuous since 28 February this year, are a violation of the law and constitute child exploitation tied to the political scene.
The ECCR is using the human shield argument in the defence of several children currently undergoing court hearings related to clashes in Cairo.
According to Marwa Mohssen Emam, chief of the International Relations and Reports section of ECCR, children are found in places such as Tahrir Square usually in reaction to having lost a friend or family member in clashes.
“These children are exploited by the Interior Ministry to confront the demonstrators, and this exploitation is well documented,” Mohssen Emam said, adding that “this is a crime punishable by the human trafficking law number 64 of 2010”.
Mohssen Emam also said the ECCR will submit a report to the Public Prosecutor calling for the Minister of Interior and head of security to be given the maximum legal punishment. A copy of their findings will also be sent to the Committee on the Rights of Children.