A range of local, regional and international organizations, associations and networks have highlighted the continuing tragic nature of enforced disappearances in the Middle East and North Africa, where impunity for perpetrators of enforced disappearances remains the norm. Regional and international rights organizations also expressed their full and unequivocal support for the joint declaration by the Governments of 31 States before the United Nations Human Rights Council, in which they condemned the widespread human rights violations in the Arab States in terms of restrictions on freedom of expression, the right to peaceful assembly, and the restrictions on civil society and political opposition. It also condemned the use of anti-terrorism laws to punish peaceful opponents.
Enforced disappearance in Egypt
The Spanish newspaper El País referred to a report by the “Egyptian Coordination on Rights and Freedoms” that the phenomenon of enforced disappearance had become systematic in Egypt over the past five years. This Organization has confirmed that, since 2015, there have been more than 2700 forced disappearances in Egypt, equivalent to 10 persons a week.
It has become increasingly common in Egypt for forced detainees to disappear for days after their capture. When family members and lawyers inquire about the whereabouts of their missing loved ones and clients, the authorities often deny being in custody or fail to respond to inquiries about their whereabouts. Egypt’s failure to prohibit the crime of enforced disappearance in domestic legislation was also encouraging. Enforced concealment ends only when detainees are brought before the Supreme State Security Office, where the authorities regularly fake the arrest dates in the arrest warrants to cover up the disappearance.
The security forces committed with the complicity of prosecutors and judges the crimes of arbitrary arrest and detention and the prosecution of thousands, including hundreds of human rights, Coptic rights defenders, peaceful demonstrators, journalists, academics, artists, politicians and lawyers.
Human Rights organizations have also stressed the need to stop targeting journalists in general, end arresting them at home or in the course of their work, and leave a safe space for journalists and media professionals to carry out their careers normally without fear, i.e the arrest of Tawfiq Ghanem more than three years ago.
The regime is creating a new method of terrorizing its citizens and trying to counter its opposition. The methodology of collective concealment of more than one family member has recently been adopted as per human rights activists and civil rights defenders. Enforced disappearance has become an ordinary mechanism for the Egyptian regime to deal with any political detention.
Human right defenders’ Unfair trial in Egypt
International human rights organizations have expressed their full solidarity with the leaders and members of the “Egyptian Coordination for Rights and Freedoms”, whose trial by the State Security Criminal Court began this month on charges of the exercise of peaceful legal work in defense of victims of torture, arbitrary detention, enforced disappearance and violations of the right to life. The trials comprise 31 accused, including 14 prisoners. According to the indictment in the case, the four members of the “Egyptian Coordination for Rights and Freedoms” are accused of promoting ideas calling for terrorist acts. They had intentionally broadcasted news and false statements about the country’s internal conditions. They had accused the State of unlawfully detaining citizens, killing, torturing and deliberately failing to provide health care to prisoners. This would weaken the prestige of the State, undermined public security, terrorized people and damaged public and national interests.
Human rights organizations have held that the charges against the defendants in “Egyptian Coordination for Rights and Freedoms” are at the heart of legitimate legal action, the duty of every human being, and are merely the peaceful exercise of the right to freedom of expression and the defense of freedoms.
Rights and civil society organizations have also repeatedly rejected the continued imposition of an uninterrupted state of emergency since 2017, contrary to the Constitution. In the current invalid emergency situation, the judicial authorities continue to refer civilian citizens to emergency State Security Courts, which are exceptional courts that do not guarantee a minimum of fair trial rights. The accused are not allowed to appeal against their judgments before any judicial body and are subject to the authority of the President of the Republic, who has the power to abolish or commute them or to order a retrial, in clear violation of the principle of separation of executive and judicial powers.