CAIRO (AP) — Egyptian authorities arrested more than 300 children during protests in Cairo over the past year, beating and torturing some and trying many as adults, a leading international rights group said Tuesday.
Human Rights Watch said in a report Tuesday that the arrests and treatment of detained children violated Egyptian and international law.
The New York-based group says the detentions occurred during protests against harsh measures imposed by the military in the wake of last year's uprising that toppled Hosni Mubarak. The military took over after Mubarak stepped down, running the country until a new president was elected in June.
The group said it interviewed children who had been detained, who said police and military officers "kicked them, beat them with rifle butts, hit them with batons, and subjected them to electric shocks."
It also said police interrogated children before they had access to a lawyer, and sent juveniles to be tried as adults in violation of Egyptian and international law.
Human Rights Watch said its interviews of relatives and the lawyers of children who were arrested over the past year showed that police consistently carried out widespread arrests during protests. It said violations against children were linked to five major protests in the aftermath of the uprising.
More recently, the group said that at least 136 children were arrested during September demonstrations against an anti-Muslim film that sparked violence in the Middle East. The arrests, made in front of the U.S. embassy in Cairo, were the largest single roundup of children linked to a protest in the past year.
Human Rights Watch said that President Mohammed Morsi made a positive step last month when he issued a pardon for those charged or convicted of acts "in support of the revolution." It said Morsi must now investigate abuse that protesters suffered while in state custody, and make cases involving children a priority.