The Egyptian Coalition on Children’s Rights (ECCR) and the National Council for Childhood and Motherhood (NCCM) decried two separate incidents of using children for political purposes on Thursday.
ECCR said it “fully condemns using children for political purposes by any political faction,” after reports surfaced that children belonging to an orphanage were rallied to attend a conference urging defence minister Abdel Fatah Al-Sisi to run for president.
The coalition asserted that using children for political purposes is a violation of Article 291 of the Penal Code which was added to Child Law No. 126 for the year 2008, as well as a violation of all international charters and conventions ratified by the Egyptian government.
“This amounts to child trafficking, which is a crime punishable by life in prison with hard labour,” the coalition said.
It called on all political groups and state bodies to intervene to put an end to “these crimes against our children”. It also called for investigations into the aforementioned incident and called on the military institution to urge its supporters to halt such practices.
NCCM said the lives of children are endangered by their political exploitation in Port Said, focusing on a separate incident.
The council added in a statement that it has filed a complaint to the prosecution against the founder of “children against the coup”, state-run MENA reported.
Secretary General of the council Azza Ashmawy said this is considered “trafficking” and violates the Children’s Act and the international conventions ratified by Egypt.
Wafa Al-Banna, the acting spokeswoman of the Muslim Brotherhood said there is a huge difference between the two incidents. “We raised our children on democracy and they are considered political activists,” she said. She added that they are not being exploited.
On Wednesday, the army announced on its official page that it arrested a 12 year-old boy who was being used by “infidels and terrorist groups” to monitor the movements of security forces in Sinai. The military published pictures of the boy after his arrest, a move that was condemned by Human Rights Advocate Ghada Shabandar.
A group of seven children, arrested after clashes in November, were faced with several charges including the display of force and killing or causing injury to several people.
Fadi Wagdy, a lawyer with ECCR who attended the investigations, said one of the children was arrested while sitting at café in the bourse area in Downtown Cairo and another was arrested while passing through the area.
ECCR had urged authorities at the time to “treat the children like victims”.