Egypt: New cases of civilian abductions

In June, the Missing Blog reported on the unlawful arrests and detentions of Egyptian civilians under President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi. A recent press release by the Swiss-based human rights group Alkarama sheds light on the increased number of disappearances throughout the past two months.

Most recently, Egyptian police abducted Fathi Abdelradi Abdelsalam Reda on August 3. Last seen at police headquarters in Beni Suef, his current whereabouts are unknown. Alkarama’s Egypt Country Representative, Ahmed Mefreh, describes this case as part of a larger pattern of aggressive tactics employed by Egyptian security forces. Mefreh states, “To arrest and detain people incommunicado for three months or more has become systematic.” Victims are often arrested without knowledge of their crimes and are subjected to ill-treatment.

Alkarama has sent an urgent appeal to the Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances (WGEID) in response to the case of Fathi Abdelradi Abdelsalam Reda. Additional appeals were made for the disappearances of seven women, of the General Secretary for the Justice and Freedom Party, and of a 20-year old student in the past two months. WGEID has yet to release any information in response to these appeals. Families of the victims continue to search for answers from Egyptian authorities to no avail. Alkarama demands that those who have been abducted be released immediately or placed under the protection of law.

Amnesty International, who previously reported the unlawful detention of civilians in Al Azouly prison, says the current situation is evidence of the “sharp deterioration in human rights in Egypt in the year since President Mohamed Morsi was ousted,” (2 July 2014). Additionally, arbitrary arrests, torture, unfair trials, and death in police custody have increased during President al-Sisi’s tenure, with members of the Muslim Brotherhood and their supporters being particular targets. These accusations come amidst the release of a controversial Human Rights Watch (HRW) report that criticizes Egyptian authorities of premeditating the mass shooting of Islamist protesters in Rabaa last year.

The widespread impunity in Egypt for these crimes has been met with criticism from the international community. Amnesty, HRW, and other regional human rights groups call for an independent investigation into the crimes that have been committed by security forces in the past year. The suppression of civil society within Egypt has been an obstacle for organizations trying to achieve this goal; therefore an international inquiry into disappearances and other crimes against civilians is an essential step to ensuring human rights.