(Oct. 2, 2018) On October 1, 2018, First Lady Melania Trump embarked on a visit of four African countries, including Egypt, with the purpose of promoting her “Be Best” child welfare campaign. The campaign focuses on the protection of children’s rights and welfare. (Melania Trump Departs America to Visit Egypt, VETOGATE (Oct. 1, 2018) (in Arabic).)
Egypt has a legislative instrument to regulate and protect children’s welfare—Law No. 12 of 1996, known as the “Child Law”—which was amended by Law No. 126 of 2008. (Law No. 126 of 2008, Amending Law No. 12 of 1996, AL-JARIDAH AL-RASMIYAH [OFFICIAL GAZETTE], vol. 24 bis, 15 June 2008 (in Arabic).) The following are highlights of the Child Law.
Article 1 of the Child Law requires the state to be responsible for the welfare of children and guarantee the rights afforded them in international conventions. Article 2 of the Law defines a child as a person under the age of 18. (Id. art. 2.) Article 3 ensures a child’s right to life, survival, and development in a supportive family environment and to be protected from all forms of violence and injury; physical, mental, and sexual abuse; and negligence and exploitation. Article 3(b) stipulates that children must be protected from all forms of discrimination based on the children’s birthplace, parents, sex, religion, race, disability, or any other status, and must be guaranteed equality of opportunity among children. (Id. art. 3.)
Article 7 asserts the right of children to access healthcare and social services and to be treated for any illness. It requires the state to adopt necessary measures to ensure that all children enjoy the highest level of healthcare. Article 7(bis)(a) guarantees the protection of children’s welfare from any physical or emotional abuse by their parents. (Id. art. 7.)
Article 31 addresses the social welfare of the child. It provides that nurseries for children under four years of age must be subject to the supervision and control of the Ministry of Social Welfare. (Id. art. 31.) Article 53(5) requires children to be taught the principles of equality of individuals and nondiscrimination on the basis of religion, sex, ethnicity, race, social origin, or disability. (Id. art. 53.) Article 67 regulates child labor for children under the age of 16. (Id. art. 67.)
Article 75 mandates the protection of the welfare of children with disabilities, stipulating that the state must ensure the protection of the child from any future disability that may be caused by manual labor. (Id. art. 75.) Article 76 focuses on the integration of children with disabilities into society. It states that a disabled child must have the right to enjoy special social, physical, and mental care that promotes self-reliance and facilitates the child’s integration and participation in the society. (Id. art. 76.)
The Child Law imposes sanctions on adults who are charged with child negligence or fail to protect children’s rights. For instance, under article 113, an adult who neglects to look after a child, thereby placing the child at risk, is punishable by a fine. (Id. art. 113.) Also, under article 114, a child’s guardian whose negligence in carrying out his or her duties toward the child compromises the child’s safety or morals is punishable by a fine or imprisonment for three months to one year. (Id. art. 114.) Moreover, article 116 punishes an adult who induces a child to commit a misdemeanor, or assists or facilitates in the commission of one, with imprisonment for one to seven years. (Id. art.116.)
Finally, article 120 of the Law created the “Child Court,” whose jurisdiction covers any crimes related to children. (Id. art. 120.) Article 121 stipulates that the Court be composed of three judges as well as assisted by two child experts, whose attendance during the court proceedings is mandatory. The experts’ main responsibility is to submit a report to the Court after studying the social circumstances of the child. (Id. art. 121.)