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ENHR calls for release of Sinai boy arrested at 16 and forcibly disappeared

A picture taken on July 26, 2018 shows Egyptian policemen stand guarding a checkpoint on a road leading to the North Sinai provincial capital of El-Arish. [KHALED DESOUKI/AFP via Getty Images]
Egyptian policemen stand guard, 6 July 2018 [KHALED DESOUKI/AFP via Getty Images]

The Egyptian Network for Human Rights (ENHR) is highlighting the case of Amir Mohsen Hammad Afrifi, who is still in prison seven years after his arrest and forcible disappearance.

Amir was arrested on 30 March 2013 after security forces in military and civilian clothes stormed his house in the Al-Salaymeh neighbourhood in the North Sinai capital of Arish.

At the time Amir was 16 and a student at the art school in Arish.

Security forces smashed up the contents of the house whilst holding the rest of the family in another room, then took Amir away.

The previous day, security forces had broken into the house and arrested Amir's older brother Hammad, however, he was released four days later.

In a Facebook post the ENHR reported that eyewitnesses saw Amir in the headquarters of the 101st brigade of the Egyptian armed forces, an unofficial place of detention, where he was interrogated.

Amir was forcibly disappeared for three months then transferred to Al-Arish Central Prison.

He was accused of joining Daesh, however, roughly one year later, in July 2014, Al-Arish court issued an unconditional release order for Amir without charge and he was transferred to a police station to prepare for his release.

However, he was then forcibly disappeared again.

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Human Rights Watch (HRW) documented that the Egyptian authorities have tortured child prisoners with electricity, stun guns and waterboards whilst prosecutors and judges turn a blind eye.

Conditions are particularly bad in North Sinai where there is a blackout on information as journalists and human rights workers are severely restricted from entering.

A recent report by the Committee for Justice has documented how the implementation of the state of emergency in Egypt has had a devastating effect on human rights abuses in the country and has been used numerous times in North Sinai, giving the armed forces and police more powers to act on the pretext of counterterror.

In March, 15-year-old Abdullah Boumediene attempted suicide in prison after not being able to bear the conditions of his detention any longer.

Abdullah is from Arish and was arrested in December 2017 when he was just 12 and forcibly disappeared inside the National Security building in Arish.

The child prisoner has been tortured, held in solitary confinement, and forcibly disappeared. In 2018 a children's court in Abbasiya ruled that Abdullah should be released but instead he was deported to another detention facility.

On 25 July 2018 security forces broke into the family home of 14-year-old Ibrahim Mohamed Shaheen, arrested his father, and returned a day later for Ibrahim.

Since his arrest, Ibrahim remains forcibly disappeared.

Child prisoners have long-term, devastating mental health consequences including PTSD, depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts and nightmares.

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