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254 cases of ‘enforced disappearance’ in Egypt since the beginning of 2017

An Egyptian is arrested by plainclothes police in downtown Cairo, Egypt, Sunday, January 25, 2015
An Egyptian is arrested by plainclothes police in downtown Cairo, Egypt, Sunday, January 25 2015

An Egyptian human rights organisation stated on Sunday that 254 people have “forcibly disappeared” in the country over the past six months.

While the Egyptian authorities repeatedly deny the cases of “enforced disappearance” in the country, a human rights activist said in an interview with Anadolu that the issue of “enforced disappearance” is “unrealistic” and has become “a tool of political intrigue.”

The Egyptian Coordination for Rights and Freedoms, based in Cairo, stated in a statistical report issued on 6 August that 254 people “disappeared forcibly” between 1 January and the end of June.

The organisation clarified that “all those who have been forcibly disappearing are male and only 47 have appeared.”

The organisation added that 104 people were between the ages of 18 and 35.

According to the report, last May was the month where most of the cases of “enforced disappearance,” which amounted to 67 cases, have been recorded.

Commenting on the report, Ezzat Ghonim, director of the Egyptian Coordination for Rights and Freedoms, said in an interview with Anatolia that he was concerned about “the continuation of the phenomenon of enforced disappearance,” and called for “the rule of law and the cessation of these violations.”

“The issue of enforced disappearance in Egypt has been politicized and used as a tool for political intrigue, yet it is not true,” said Said Abl Al-Hafiz, president of the Forum for Development and Human Rights Dialogue (non-governmental organisation).

In an interview with Anadolu, Abdel Hafez said that the National Council for Human Rights (governmental) has recently issued a report refuting allegations of the disappearance of more than 200 people. In reality, most of them were found to be in custody or travelled abroad to join armed groups in Syria and Iraq.

Egypt faces domestic and international criticism of “abuses” related to “enforced disappearance” and “torture in detention,” but the Egyptian authorities have “repeatedly” denied any illegal violations.

In this context, Egyptian Minister of Interior Magdy Abdel Ghaffar said in a previous statement that “there is no enforced disappearance in Egypt, and Egyptian police do not have this term in their dictionary.”

Enforced disappearance, as defined by international human rights law, means that a person is abducted or imprisoned secretly by a State, political organisation or a third party, with the mandate or support of a State, for the purpose of placing the victim outside the protection of law.

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