68 unresolved cases of forced disappearances since July 2013: AOHR report

Nourhan Fahmy
3 Min Read
Student groups say that security forces forcibly “kidnap” students and claim that police in plainclothes fight along security forces during clashes with students. Forced disappearances have seen a general rise over the past two years. (Photo by Gehad Abaza)

The Arab Organisation for Human Rights (AOHR) in the UK published a report Saturday on forcibly disappeared individuals in Egypt since 3 July 2013, citing a member of a fact-finding committee that documented 68 unresolved cases of disappearances.

“Enforced disappearances are considered among the most dangerous crimes committed by the Egyptian regime systematically against the opposition,” stated the report.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs was contacted; however, there was no comment on the matter at the time of publishing.

AOHR accused security forces of kidnapping individuals in this manner, amounting to enforced disappearances. The report stated that hundreds have been forcibly disappeared since the 25 January Revolution, in addition to cases of disappearances that occurred before the revolution without precise figures.

A Ministry of Interior spokesperson previously denied that police forcibly take individuals in this manner, also telling Daily News Egypt that Egypt’s police forces are currently not targeting young people, regardless of their political stances and positions.

However, local media have reported that some of the disappeared individuals have appeared before prosecution, on charges of belonging to an illegal organisation and unlawfully calling for protests.

The report further states that those subjected to forced disappearances were either detained in unofficial detention facilities and prisons like Al-Azouly military prison, or in state security headquarters, based on the testimonies of the victims.

The Freedom for the Brave campaign had compiled a report early June on cases of forced disappearances, and detentions without investigation since April. There were a total of 163 such cases in almost two months, with 132 documented cases and 31 cases reported with no documentation.

There were cases of forced disappearance that ended with deaths of the disappeared, namely those of Islam Ateeto and Sabry Al-Ghoul.

Ateeto, an Ain Shams University engineering student, was found dead on 20 May, a day after his disappearance, while Al-Ghoul, a Sinai-based activist, died on 2 June after being detained for several hours by the military.

In a report released late July, Human Rights Watch (HRW) accused Egyptian security forces of being involved in conducting forced disappearances, under national and international law.

Article 54 of the Egyptian constitution states: “All those arrested or detained shall be informed of the reasons and of their rights in writing, and allowed to immediately contact their kin and lawyer, and be presented to the investigating authority within 24 hours of the time of arrest.”

Egypt is also party to several international conventions prohibiting many practices that are integral parts of defining forced disappearances, such as prolonged detention without being charged and failure by security forces to inform close relatives of the whereabouts of their family member.

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