Report: 215 cases of forced disappearances in August, September

There have been 215 cases of forced disappearances across Egypt in August and September, according to a report issued by a campaign working to combat the phenomenon.

The report, which was issued on Tuesday, stated that only 63 individuals have been located, with the whereabouts of the other 152 cases remaining unknown.

The 63 cases, the report said, have appeared in various police stations and Central Security Forces camps. The individuals located include defendants in cases related to protesting or belonging to a terrorist organization. Others were identified by their families in Interior Ministry videos.

The report was prepared by the Stop Forced Disappearances campaign, under the auspices of the Egyptian Commission for Rights and Freedoms. The campaign was launched on August 30, to coincide with the International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances, amid a wave of forced disappearances in the country.

The campaign had posted a form on its Facebook page, through which it collected information and reached out to the families of the disappeared.

Stop Forced Disappearances managed to trace eight cases that disappeared from their holding cells after the prosecution ordered their release, an occurrence similar to “a pattern used by former Interior Minister Habib al-Adly under [former President Hosni] Mubarak.”

The report also listed the names of the 215 people who disappeared, including details of those located, such as where and when they were located and the charges leveled against them.

Those listed in the report are from different backgrounds, and were arrested on suspicion of belonging to a terrorist group or being involved in acts of violence.

“Perhaps the reason behind their arrest and torture is security forces’ belief that they have information on certain people or organizations or claimed terrorist activity,” the report said.

In its report, the campaign listed its demands, including the disclosure of the whereabouts of those listed in the report and referring them to prosecution and holding those responsible for their disappearances accountable. It also demanded that Egypt sign and ratify the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court and the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance.

According to the report, there is no definition for forced disappearances in the Constitution or Penal Code, and there are no articles that criminalize it.

However, certain forms of arrest are criminalized and temporary detention is regulated by certain laws that partly protect from forced disappearances.

The report added that President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi has issued a number of decrees in the absence of parliament, pertaining to rights and freedoms, which “strengthen the tools of repression” and violate human rights.

It cited the anti-terrorism law, which includes articles that legalize “practices that lead to forced disappearances,” and gives police and military forces powers that violate the Constitution and give them impunity. 

The report concludes, “It is therefore no surprise that security forces is systematically involved in forced disappearances in Egypt, making it one of the most committed violations practiced on a daily basis against innocent citizens.”