Human Rights Watch (HRW) yesterday called on Egyptian authorities to locate the disclose the whereabouts of former parliamentarian Mostafa Al-Nagar who has been missing “for nearly five months”.
“The Egyptian authorities should exert serious efforts to find and reveal the whereabouts of Mostafa Al-Nagar,” HRW said.
The rights organisation pointed out that the Egyptian government had denied playing a role in Al-Nagar’s arrest, describing the accusations as “false rumours.”
“The Egyptian authorities’ denial that they arrested Mostafa Al-Nagar and their clear lack of interest in locating him is of deep concern, given their systematic practice of carrying out disappearances and publishing misinformation to cover their tracks,” HRW’s Deputy Director for Middle East and North Africa, Michael Page, said.
Page called on the state authorities to “immediately work with Al-Nagar’s family to resolve this case.”
Al-Nagar, a 38-year-old dentist, is the founder and former president of the Al-Adl Party and a former member of parliament during the tenure of the first freely-elected Egyptian President, Mohamed Morsi. He went missing on 27 September 2018 in Egypt’s southern province of Aswan and his family has been unable to contact him or discover his whereabouts.
In October, the Egypt State Information Service, a government agency responsible for foreign media activities, denied “categorically” it’s involvement in Al-Nagar’s disappearance.
The missing politician’s lawyer, Negad Al-Borie, recently told AFP that they authorities had told him that they would find Al-Nagar if he was “present in the country.”
“There has been no information at all about Al-Nagar since he went missing,” Al-Borie stressed.
Al-Nagar was sentenced in December 2017 by a criminal court to three years in prison and fined one million Egyptian pounds ($57,500) for “insulting the judiciary”. The case stemmed from his statements in a 2012 parliamentary session where he criticised the state judiciary for failing to hold security forces accountable for the killing of “peaceful protesters”.
Since incumbent Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi took power in 2014, the government has launched a crackdown on pro-democracy activists and anyone suspected of opposing his leadership. Local and international human rights groups accuse the Egyptian authorities of carrying out forced disappearances, arbitrary arrests and unlawful detentions of thousands of dissidents. Egypt has consistently denied the accusations.
Amnesty International has described the situation in Egypt as the worst human rights crisis in the country in decades, with the state systematically using arbitrary arrests and enforced disappearances to silence any dissent and create an atmosphere of fear.
Last September, the United Nations Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances (WGEID) criticised Egyptian security forces’ continued policy of “systematic forced disappearances against rights activists and many citizens.” It stated that the number of enforced disappearances reached 1,989 cases during the period from August 2017 to August 2018.