Last Edited: May 2005
Summary and Analysis
Egypt ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child in July of 1990. Egypt also ratified the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child in May of 2001. It is unclear what force in the law, if any, these treaties carry.
We have been unable to locate any statutes that speak directly to the child's right to be heard in child protective proceedings.
Family law proceedings in Egypt do not necessarily take into account the child's or parent's wishes, or the “best interests” of the child in making decisions. Custody and care decisions, for example, are governed by a set of guidelines, and are determined by the child's age and sex rather than by their best interests or wishes. There is no requirement that children be represented in civil proceedings, and there is no requirement that their views be taken into account in any judicial determinations regarding their care and upbringing.
Egyptian law does not effectively distinguish between children who have committed criminal offences and children who are in need of protection. Chapter Eight of Egypt's Child Law 12 of 1996, entitled “The Criminal Treatment of Children,” allows police to arrest any child under eighteen for a wide variety of activities. Some of these activities, including being habitually absent from school or suffering from mental illness or diminished mental capacity, are “status offences” that would not constitute crimes if committed by adults. Others, like being homeless, begging, or practicing or working for those involved in prostitution, gambling, or drugs, are clear evidence that a child is in need of special protection and assistance from the state.
Article 125 of the Children's Code states that in criminal cases the child must be defended by a lawyer. If the child has not chosen one, the public prosecutor or the court shall assign one in accordance with the rules laid down in the Code on Penal Procedure. In cases other than criminal ones, the appointment of a lawyer is not automatic. There is little information on whether children have the right to representation or to have their views heard other than in a criminal context.
Related Sources of Law (In Order of Authority)
The Egyptian Constitution
The State shall guarantee the protection of motherhood and childhood, take care of children and youth and provide the suitable conditions for the development of their talents.
Child Law no. 12 1996
The protection and interests of the child shall have priority in all decisions or procedures connected with childhood, whichever is the Department or Authority issuing or undertaking them.
The child's kinship shall not be related to other than his parents. Adoption shall be prohibited.
Every child shall enjoy all legitimate rights, especially the right to breast-feeding, nursing, food, clothing, habitation, seeing his/her parents, and protecting his/her property and funds, according to the Personal Status Laws.
The system of surrogate families aims at providing social, psychological, health, and professional care to children of more than two years of age, and whose conditions and circumstances prevent rearing them within their natural families, with the aim of upbreeding them and raising them on a sound basis, and compensating them for lost tenderness and affection…
The Social Care Institution For Children who are deprived of family care shall denote all houses set up for sheltering the children of not less than 6 years of age and not more than 19 years of age, who are deprived of family care due to orphanage, disintegration and break-up of the family, or its inability to provide proper and sound family care for the child…
Criminal Treatment for Children
A child shall be considered liable to perversion in any of the following cases:
1. In case he is found begging. Displaying trifle commodities or services, or performing acrobatic shows and other such unfit works for a serious source of living shall be considered a type of mendacity.
2. If he practices the business of collecting cigarette butts or other remnants or waste matters.
3. If he is found performing…debauchery, corruption of morals, gambling, drugs, or other such conducts, or serving those performing them.
4. If he has not stable residence address, or normally sleeps in the streets or in other places that are not provided for residence or sleeping.
5. If he mingles with others who are liable to perversion, and the suspects or persons who are notorious for bad conduct and behaviour.
6. If he is an habitual disruptive student and truant from educational or training institutes.
7. If he has a bad conduct and errs from the authority of his father, guardian, or curator, or from the authority of his mother in case of the decease and absence of his guardian, or his legal incapacity.. no procedures shall in this case be taken vis a vis the child, even if it is a factual investigation procedure, except with the permission of his father, guardian, curator, or mother, according to each case.
8. If he has no licit means of living, nor a trustable supporter.
A child under sever years of age shall be considered liable to perversion in case he is found to fulfill any of the cases defined in the previous article, or if he commits an act constituting an offence or delinquency.
If a child is found to exist in any case of liability to perversion, as prescribed in items (1) to (6) of article 96, and article 97 of this law, the Juvenile Prosecution shall serve a warning in writing to his guardian to control the child's conduct and behaviour in future…
If a child is found to exist in one of the liability to perversion cases which are referred to in the previous clause, after the warning becomes final, or if he is aught in one of the two cases prescribed in items (7) and (8) of article 96, a measure of those prescribed in article (101) of this law shall be taken in his respect, and if he has not attained seven years of age, only the measure of delivering him or committing him to one of the specialized hospitals shall be adopted toward him.
A child not yet achieving fifteen years of age shall be sentenced to one of the following measures, in case he commits a crime:
2. Delivery to the party in charge of him
3. Joining vocational training
4. Committing to perform specified duties
5. Judicial probation
6. Committing to one of the social care institutions
7. Committing to one of the specialized hospitals.
The Juvenile Court shall be formed of three magistrates and shall be assisted by two specialist experts of whom one at least shall be a woman. Their attendance during the trial procedures shall be mandatory.
The two experts shall submit their report to the Court after studying the conditions of the child in all respects, before the Court pronounces its ruling.
The said two experts shall be appointed by a Decree of the Minister of Justice in agreement with the Minister of Social Affairs. The conditions to be fulfilled by those who will be appointed as experts shall be determined by a Decree of the Minister of Social Affairs.
A child shall have a lawyer to defend him in felony matters. If he has chosen no lawyer the Public Prosecution or the Court shall delegate a counsel for him, in accordance with the rules prescribed in the Criminal Procedure Code.
If the child has reached the age of fifteen years, the Court may delegate a Counsel for him in Delinquency matters.
The Personal Status Act No. 25 1929
Article 20 (1)
The right of female guardianship shall expire once the youngster attains the age of ten for boys and the age of twelve for girls. The Court may decree that after attaining the prescribed ages, the youngsters shall remain in the hands of the female guardian, without custody fees, until the age of fifteen (for boys) and until the youngster girl gets married, if it transpires to the judge that the youngsters' interests necessitate doing that.
Each one of the spouses shall have the right to see the youngster boy or girl. The grandfathers shall have the same right in case the youngsters have absent parents.
In case it is difficult and impossible to arrange for seeing the children by agreement, the Court shall organize that providing it shall take place where it should not harm the young boy or girl psychologically.
A Court ruling for seeing the children shall not be enforced coercively. However, if the one in whose hands the youngster is kept, refrains unjustifiably from executing the court judgment, the Court shall serve a warning on him, and if a recurrence thereof takes place on his part, the Court may issue a judicially self-executed decree transferring the custody temporarily to the next in kinship who have the right to such guardianship, for a period to be determined by the court.
The right of tutelage and custody is established for the mother, then for the female prohibited degrees consanguinity, with priority to degrees of the mother's linear-ship over the father's, and considering the closer to kinship on both sides, according to the following order:
The mother, then the mother's mother, even if she is grand grandmother…etc. the father's mother, even if she is grand grandmother…etc., the full sisters, the sisters from the mother, the sisters from the father, the daughter of a full sister, the daughter of a sister from the mother, the aunts (mother's sisters) according to the above sequence of sisters, the daughter of a sister from the father, the daughters of a brother according to the order above, the aunts (father's sisters) according to the order above, the mother's aunts (sisters of the mother's mother) according to the order above, the father's aunts (sisters of the father's mother) according to the order above, the mother's aunts (sisters of the mother's father) according to the order above, and the father's aunts (sisters of the father's father) according to the order above.
If no such female guardianships are available, or if there is no one among them eligible to assume the custody, or if the period of female guardianship expires, the right of custody shall shift to agnate males according to their order of entitlement to inheritance, taking into consideration that a full grandfather shall have precedence over the brothers. If no one of these exists, the right of custody shall shift to the youngsters prohibited degrees of consanguinity with males other than agnates, according to the following order:
The grandfather…the mother's brother…the mother's nephew…the uncle (father's brother), the full uncle (mother's full brother), the father's uncle…then the mother's uncle…
Executive regulations of the Child Law
If a child's safety, morality, health or life is endangered; if the conditions of the environment surrounding the child's upbringing exposes her/him to danger; if the person responsible for spending on the child neglects him/her; if the educational future of the child is exposed to the danger of his/her continuation; if the child is exposed to instigations on the illegal use of narcotics, alcohol, or violence or activities which are against the moral values; these children would be placed in one of the social care institutions for a period, identified by the district attorney until it is ensured that the cause of danger is alleviated.
Egyptian Civil Code
(1) All persons attaining majority, in possession of their mental faculties and not under legal disability, are fully capable of exercising their civil rights.
(2) the majority of a person is fixed at twenty-one years completed in accordance with the Gregorian Calendar
(1) A person devoid of discrimination owing to youth, feeble mindedness or insanity is incapable of exercising his civil rights.
(2) A person who has not attained the age of seven is considered devoid of discrimination.
Local Contact Information
Dr. Randa Youssef
Associate Professor of Community Medicine
Community Medicine Department, Faculty of Medicine
Additional Resources and Links
CataLaw: Middle East - http://www.catalaw.com/region/MidEast.shtml.
Randa M. Youssef, Convention on the Rights of the Child: Framework for Meeting the Health and Developmental Needs of Children and to Prevent Child Maltreatment, available http://www.ispcan.org/documents/vid/YoussefCRC-VID-final.pdf.
Embassy of the United States: Egypt - http://cairo.usembassy.gov/
Egyptian Government Services Portal - http://www.egypt.gov.eg/ or http://www.egypt.gov.eg/english/
 Const. of Egypt, available http://www.egypt.gov.eg/english/laws/constitution/index.asp.
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