04 April 2016

Egypt: new cases of enforced disappearances of students

Profile of Mohammed Al Husseini wearing a coat A mosaic of different photos of Ahmed Al Naggar In March 2016, Alkarama sent two communications to the United Nations Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances (WGEID) regarding the disappearances in November 2015 and February 2016 of two Egyptian students, Ahmed Ihab Mohamed Al Naggar and Mohammed Mohammed Abdelmotaleb Al Husseini following their arrests by the authorities. While Ahmed was reportedly seen in detention in early February 2016, without official confirmation however, Mohammed’s whereabouts remain unknown to his relatives to date and both students are at high risk of being tortured while in secret detention, either in retaliation against their alleged political affiliations or to force them to confess to crimes.

On 13 November 2015, the police together with Security Forces members raided Ahmed Al Naggar’s family apartment in Embaba, a Cairo district. After breaking the door down, they asked for the 20-year-old boy and confiscated his personal belongings, including his computer and his phone. Then, they brought him out of the apartment and forced him into a car that drove away for an unknown location. The following day, his family sent telegrams to various official bodies and also solicited the assistance of the National Human Rights Council (NCHR) – a semi-independent body in charge of promoting and protecting human rights in Egypt that will be soon reviewed by a United Nations accreditation body  – but to no avail. It is only in early February 2016 that Ahmed’s relatives heard from detainees that he was currently detained in the 6th of October City Homeland Security facility, but the authorities continued to deny his detention.

On his side, Mohammed Al Husseini was arrested on 28 February 2016 by policemen. On that day, this 25-year-old student in medicine was working at a pharmacy in El Tagamoa El Khames, near Cairo, when policemen entered the building and asked for Mohammed’s employer, Dr Omar Abou Sayed. After the latter had presented himself to the officers, they arrested the two men and left for an unknown location. Since, if Mohammed’s employer was indicted in the General Prosecutor of Egypt’s killing case and is currently detained in Tora prison, the student remains disappeared, in spite of the different steps taken by his family to know more about his whereabouts. Given the fact that Mohammed has already been arrested in 2014 and tortured in detention in retaliation against his political affiliations, his family fears that he could be subjected to ill-treatment again. Torture remains systematic in Egypt, particularly against youths such as 18-year-old Moaz Eid Abdelazim Ismael, who was tortured before being sentenced to prison in November 2015.

Symptomatic cases of the situation in Egypt

“Ahmed and Mohammed’s cases are symptomatic of the current situation in Egypt where thousands of individuals have disappeared in the past two years, without reason, said Thomas-John Guinard, Alkarama Regional Legal Officer for the Nile. In the great majority of cases documented by Alkarama, individuals disappear for few weeks but sometimes, as in Ahmed’s case, their secret detention lasts for months. In any case, victims are often subjected to torture during their secret detention and then reappear in prison after having been officially indicted, as if nothing had happened. Hence, individuals responsible for their disappearance and for the violations that occurred during it are never investigated. It is a lawless process that the authorities use to stifle anyone that would disagree with them and their policies.

Given the absence of local remedies available to Ahmed and Mohammed’s families, they turned to Alkarama that sent communications to the United Nations Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances (WGEID) to ask the Egyptian authorities to disclose their places of detention and to authorise their families and lawyer to visit them immediately. While thousands of disappearances have been reported in Egypt since July 2013, the authorities should take effective measures to end this endemic measure practice and ensure justice for victims and their families.

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Egypt - HR Instruments

International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR)

ICCPR: Ratified on 14.01.1982
Optional Protocol: No

State report: Overdue since 01.11.2004 (4th)
Last concluding observations: 28.11.2002

Convention against Torture (CAT)

CAT: Accessed on 25.06.1986
Optional Protocol: No
Art. 20 (Confidential inquiry): Yes
Art. 22 (Individual communications): No

State report: Due on 25.06.2016 (initially due in 2004)
Last concluding observations: 23.12.2002

International Convention for the Protection of all Persons from Enforced Disappearance (CED)


Universal Periodic Review (UPR)

Last review: 02.2010 (1st cycle)
Next review: 2014 (2nd cycle)

National Human Rights Institution (NHRI)

National Council for Human Rights (NCHR) – Status A

Last review: 10.2006
Next review: Deferred