HRW: Egypt Kidnaps Political Activists

HRW: Egypt Kidnaps Political ActivistsHRW: Egypt Kidnaps Political Activists

Dozens of people have disappeared after being detained by Egypt’s security forces, the Human Rights Watch said on Tuesday.

In a statement, the New York-based body urged Egyptian authorities to immediately disclose their whereabouts and hold those responsible to account, Albawaba reported.

“Egyptian security forces have apparently snatched up dozens of people without a word about where they are or what has happened to them,” said Joe Stork, deputy Middle East director of the organization.

“The failure of the public prosecution to seriously investigate these cases reinforces the nearly absolute impunity that security forces have enjoyed under President [Abdel Fattah] el-Sisi.”

Enforced disappearances constitute a violation of international human rights law. If carried out systematically as a matter of policy, they are a crime against humanity.

The watchdog group said Egypt’s allies should not participate in any assistance to the country’s internal security forces until Egypt transparently investigates serious abuses such as enforced disappearances.

Egypt has been dogged by instability since Mohamed Morsi, the country’s first democratically-elected president, was overthrown in a military coup led by Sisi in July 2013.

In the two years since, the Egyptian regime has waged a harsh crackdown on political dissent that has left hundreds of the regime’s opponents dead and tens of thousands behind bars.

 Forcibly Disappeared

HRW said it has documented the cases of five people forcibly disappeared and two people most likely forcibly disappeared between April 2014 and June 2015.

In three of the cases, the victims were last seen in the custody of state officials, although state authorities initially denied that the persons in question had been detained or refused to reveal their whereabouts, it said.

In three cases, relatives and others who knew the disappeared said security forces had apprehended the victims. A doctor who was disappeared in April 2014 remains unaccounted for.

“The crime of enforced disappearance may simultaneously violate multiple non-derogable human rights protections; rights that cannot be suspended, including the right to life, freedom from torture or inhuman and degrading treatment and freedom from arbitrary arrest and detention”, the group said.

“It is also an ongoing violation that continues so long as the disappeared person remains missing.”

  Additional Reports

In its latest annual report, released May 31, the quasi-governmental National Council for Human Rights said it had verified nine cases of enforced disappearance. The report did not state whether prosecutors had investigated any of these cases.

On June 9, the NCHR said it would review 55 cases of alleged enforced disappearance that their families had presented in a meeting.

Khaled Abd al-Hamid, a Freedom for the Brave coordinator, said he learned about 39 additional cases that his group had not previously documented. Most took place in April and May 2015, but some dated from the time of the ouster of Morsi.

The Egyptian Commission for Rights and Freedoms, an independent group, shared with HRW detailed information about 14 other people who disappeared in the two months following the military’s removal of Morsi and have never reappeared.

Egypt’s Interior Ministry has denied or refused to comment on alleged enforced disappearances.