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UN: Egypt received most communications from UN on enforced disappearances globally

Ahmed Shawki Amasha 55 years. A human rights defender in Egypt. He was arrested from the vicinity in Cairo 2017 [@BreakcuffsEng /Twitter]
Ahmed Shawki Amasha, human rights defender in Egypt [@BreakcuffsEng /Twitter]

Egypt has received more communications from the United Nations on enforced disappearances than any other country, according to the UN's special rapporteur on human rights defenders.

Mary Lawlor, who has in the past spoken out about the widespread arrest and pretrial detention of activists in Egypt, said that Egypt has received more communications than any other country regionally and globally since May 2020.

Of the 78 communications she made with the Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances, seven were submitted to Egypt.

The UN's working group assists families searching for their loved ones by submitting reports to governments and requesting that they carry out investigations into cases.

Enforced disappearance is systematically used by the Egyptian government against opponents of the regime. It causes serious distress to the victims' families who get no closure on their fate.

In 2020 the Egyptian Commission for Human Rights said 2,723 people had been disappeared over a five-year period in Egypt inside the National Security headquarters and other official and unofficial detention facilities across the country.

READ: Egypt's ex-presidential candidate suffers fourth heart attack in jail

The forcibly disappeared are often tortured, such as the prominent case of the vet, environmental activist and political prisoner Dr Ahmed Amasha.

In September 2019, Amasha appealed against the Cairo Criminal Court's decision to release him for fear he would be forcibly disappeared again and tortured again.

As he feared, Dr Amasha was released in October 2019 and rearrested in June 2020, forcibly disappeared and tortured so badly one of his ribs was broken.

The Egyptian Network for Human Rights (ENHR) recently highlighted the case of Abdel Rahman Al-Zuhairi who has been missing since October 2019 and was forcibly disappeared by security forces when he was just 17-years-old.

According to a Facebook post by the ENHR, Abdel was stopped in the Al-Darb Al-Ahmar area of Cairo by plain clothes national security officers who searched his and his friends' mobile phones, then took them to an unknown destination where they weren't able to contact their families.

National security officers went to Abdel's house, searched his room, but still did not disclose his location. According to ENHR, former detainees said they had seen Abdel inside the National Security headquarters in Abbasiya.

In January the ENHR revealed that Egyptian authorities held the body of a prisoner for six years after he was forcibly disappeared, without informing his family what had happened to him. Mohamed Jumaa Youssef Afifi was tortured so badly he had a heart attack and died less than a month after being arrested.

AfricaEgyptENHRInternational OrganisationsNewsUN
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