In the first Anniversary of the “Stop Enforced Disappearance” Campaign

The First annual report of the campaign documents 912 cases of enforced disappearance

Stop Enforced Disappearance Campaign

 

In the first Anniversary of the “Stop Enforced Disappearance” Campaign

The First annual report of the campaign documents 912 cases of enforced disappearance

29 August, 2016

Coinciding with the International Day for the Victims of Enforced Disappearance on 30 August 2016, the “Stop Enforced Disappearance” campaign issued its first annual report documenting the number of victims who were subjected to enforced disappearance since 1 August 2015 till mid of August 2016. The report responses to the report published by the National Council for Human Rights in July 2016. Attached to the report is a list of victims’ names and a statistical analysis of the data based on the distribution of geography, age, disappearance duration, and the place the victims were found at.

The Egyptian Commission for Rights and Freedoms (ECRF) launched the “Stop Enforced Disappearance” campaign in coinciding with the International Day for the Victims of Enforced Disappearance last year aiming at limiting the prevalence of the phenomenon of enforced disappearance. That came as a response to the significant increase of enforced disappearance incidents in Egypt which dismayed many sectors of the Egyptian society.

During the past year the campaign managed reached 912 cases of enforced disappearances, most of them happened after August 2015. 52 of these cases are still disappeared, 584 are survivors, 41 of whom were released while 4 of them are still under arrest. The status of the other 276 cases still needed to be updated to identify if there still are under disappearance or were rescued.

The total number of victims of enforced disappearance mentioned in the report is reflecting the cases that the campaign received since 1 August  2015 till mid-August 2016, as 789 cases were documented as disappeared during this period. Moreover, the campaign documented after its lauch 123 cases that had occurred between 2013 till the end of July 2015.

The geographic distribution of the cases showed that the highest number of enforced disappearance cased exists in the central governorates with 361 cases in Cairo, Giza, and Alexandria, followed by governorates of Lower Egypt with 263 cases in Delta and Marsa Matrouh. Upper Egypt comes in the third position with 151 cases, while there were 35 cases documented in the Suez Canal governorates and other 15 cases in the Sinai.  There are another 87 cases that were not identified geographically and they were pointed out as N/A.

The highest percentage of the victims of enforced disappearance was among the young people, as the age of 415 cases was between 18 and 40 years old and most of them are students. Then came the adults (40 till 60 years old) with 99 cases, while children between 0 and 18 years came in the third position with 93 cases.

Most of the enforced disappearance cases among children were documented in Cairo, 27 children were disappeared from the capital, while there were 11 children who disappeared from Alexandria, then comes Giza with 7 children. There were also 8 cases above the age of 60, while there were other 302 victims whose age was not identified.

According to the period of the disappearance, there were 198 victims who were disappeared for more than 30 days, including cases that went missing after the events of 30 of June 2013.

The distribution of cases based on the occupation of the victims showed that students are the most to be subjected to enforced disappearance as there were 321 students who disappeared during the last year. There were other occupations such as, freelancer, marketer, accountant, physician, engineer, translator, technician, lawyer, pharmacist, and researcher. The total number of these occupations was 192 cases. The campaign also documented cases among the regular troops, as 2 conscripts in the armed forces disappeared.  

The distribution of the places were the victims were found showed that the highest number were found in police stations with 135 cases, then comes the general persecution offices with 102 cases, then the National Security persecution with 64 cases (38 case of them were found in the central governorates).

The written and video statements of the Ministry of Interior was also an important source for the families of the victims to learn about what  happened to their relatives, as sometimes victims of the enforced disappearance appear in videos published by the Ministry of Interior or the Ministry of Defense confessing that they committed crimes of overthrowing the regime, belonging to terrorist groups, and other charges. Such statements revealed the fate of 32 cases of the total number.

The campaign also documented 6 cases disappearances of persons more than once, as the victim appears in the general persecution which order his release but National Security keeps the person detained in an unknown place until he is brought again to persecution facing another case.

The report includes the response of the ECRF on the report of the National Council of Human Rights entitled “Enforced Disappearance in Egypt, prosecution and the truth” on 2 July 2016.

ECRF emphasized on the contradiction in the statements of NCHR’s members from denial to categorically rejection, and even adopting terms other than “enforced disappearance” to use it legal loophole to protect the perpetrators. The NCHR also accused and defamed human rights organizations that work on monitoring and documenting cases of enforced disappearance. This contradiction and confusion means the NCHR members are not able to acknowledge the existence of the phenomenon or even to help bring justice to families of the victims of enforced disappearance, especially after attracting interest from national and international media.

ECRF added that any subjective reading to the NCHR report will shows that the council intentionally attempted to cover up the truth around the enforced disappearance phenomenon in Egypt. That is reflected in using other terms and considering the crime of “Enforced Disappearance” as a crime of “unlawful detention”, while the definition stated by the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced is very clear and conditioned. That raises doubts around the awareness of the council members of the role they play to cover up the crime and to protect the perpetrators from accountability, and therefore help in exacerbating this crime in the country.

ECRF said that the NCHR report came shocking not just for the human right community but also for the families of the enforced disappearance victims. As the report was based only on the responses of the Ministry of Interior regarding the cases that were received by the council, and without opening serious investigations to stand on top of facts of the disappearance of those people.

ECRF also said that NCHR not only intentionally disregarded the definition stated by the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance, but also stated another definition in its report aiming at denying the existence of enforced disappearance in Egypt.

The campaign’s report concluded with the following recommendations:

  • Revealing the detention places of the names mentioned in this report, the NCHR report, reports of “Stop Enforced Disappearance”, and reports issued by national and international organizations.
  • Criminalization of enforced disappearance in the Egyptian law and to consider it as a crime with no statute of limitations.
  • Amending the Penal Code to state the definition of torture stated by the Convention against Torture of year 2002
  • Joining the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court for the year 1998
  • Joining the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance of 2006
  • Joining Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture of 2002