AEFL, Dialogue for Development meet UN Committee on Enforced Disappearances



Sun, 16 Sep 2018 - 11:26 GMT


Sun, 16 Sep 2018 - 11:26 GMT

The Seminar discussing human rights issues in Egypt, Qatar and Bahrain on September 12, 2018 - Egypt Today

The Seminar discussing human rights issues in Egypt, Qatar and Bahrain on September 12, 2018 - Egypt Today

GENEVA – 16 September 2018: Association of the Egyptian Female Lawyers (AEFL) and the Dialogue for Development and Human Rights Forum delegation, which held a number of seminars on the margin of the Human Rights Council’s 39th Session, sat down with the UN Committee on Enforced Disappearances to discuss the effects of the issue is Egypt and how to best handle it.

The meeting, which was quite lengthy, addressed some of the allegations regarding some political activists and well as some of the actions taken by Qatari-funded Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated groups, according to Said Abdel Hafez, Chairperson of the Forum for Development and Human Rights Dialogue. The Egyptian delegation explained to the committee that politicizing the issue negatively affects the efforts of the United Nations.

During the meeting, the committee asserted that the Egyptian government has been and continues to cooperate positively and significantly with the Office of the Special Rapporteur on forced disappearance, explaining that the Egyptian government responds to about 85 percent of the complaints sent to the Egyptian government from the Special Rapporteur’s office.

Along the same lines, Abdel Hafez said that forced disappearance, like the Muslim Brotherhood describes, only exists in their sick, confused minds, assuring that the UN has no negative comments or remarks on the situation.

Rabha Fathy, Chairperson of the Association of the Egyptian Female Lawyers (AEFL), recommended that the international standards must be taken in mind and applied when dealing with reports of missing persons or when dealing with this issue at all.

Building on this, Magdy Helmy, journalist and member of the Egyptian delegation in Geneva, pointed out to the lack of cooperation between the team focusing on forces disappearances and the UN Refugee Agency on the issue of illegal immigration.

“Thousands of young people are dyng at sea or trying to cross the dessert with no ID on them, meaning that they cannot be identified easily. What often happens is that their families, to rid themselves of any liability, report them missing; meanwhile, there are thousands of corpses that have not been identified due or that have [partially] dissolved in the sea,” Helmy said.

“There is a need for coordination between UN bodies to identify these people and uncover the fate of thousands of people who are thought to have disappeared by force in the African continent,” continued Helmy.

Addressing the argument, which has been brought forth by some people, that there is short-term forced disapperence that is being operated by Egyptian authorities, Helmy explained that the Egyptian authorities do not need to do this due to the fact that the State of Emergency Law is not in place, giving authorities the right to place any individual that is thought to threated public security in an administrative detention for 60 days. “There is not need for the state to resort to this, especially that the emergency state is renewed by the Egyptian Parliament every three months,” stated Helmy.

A seminar of forced disappearances

Egyptian Organization for Human Rights (EOHR) held Wednesday a seminar titled ‘Forced Disappearance in Egypt’ on the margins of the 39th Session of the International Council for Human Rights held in Geneva, Switzerland.

The session was chaired by Hafez Abu Seada, Egyptian human rights activist and Chairman of the Egyptian Organization for Human rights (EOHR); panellists included Essam Shiha, Secretary General of the EOHR, Salah Salam, member of the National Council for Human Rights (NCHR), Alaa Shalaby, Secretary General of the Arab Organization for Human Rights (AOHR), Tarek Zaghloul, Executive Director at EOHR, and Mohamed Osman, International Relations Coordinator at EOHR.

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Egyptian Organization for Human Rights (EOHR) held Wednesday a seminar titled ‘Forced Disappearance in Egypt’ - Egypt Today

During his speech, Abu Seada stated that the issue should not be politicized, “Without politicising the issue and without falling into the pitfall of trying to use it as a political tool to achieve specific means, since 2015, we, as an organization, have received some 700 reports on forces disappearances. In response of which, we contacted the Ministry of the interior regarding these individuals. So far, we have received word regarding some 500 individuals; the Ministry’s response explained that these individuals are being held on remand for crimes that have been committed. It also became clear that some of those being held on remand are part of terrorist groups or organizations; some of whom have appeared in ISIS videos calling themselves martyrs for conducting terrorist activities. Others immigrated illegally and were caught.”

Abu Saeda also took the opportunity to point out the importance of the government’s response to complaints from EOHR, the NCHR and the Committee on Enforced Disappearances (CED), a United Nations instrument that aims to prevent forced disappearance as defined in international law.

This, the chairperson explained, comes as an encouragement to approach and cooperate with the NCHR and respond to its recommendations: The complete end forced disappearance phenomenon.

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Egyptian Organization for Human Rights holds seminar on ‘Forced Disappearance in Egypt’ - Egypt Today

Along the same lines, Shiha stressed that although the phrase ‘forced disappearance’ is not mentioned per se in the Egyptian Constitution or Egyptian Law, the new Constitution, Code of Criminal Procedure and Penal Code indirectly criminalize forced disappearance.

“This is clearly reflected in Articles 51, 54, 55 and 59 of the Egyptian Constitution and Articles 40, 42 and 43 of the Code of Criminal Procedure and Article 280 of the Penal Code.”

Shisha continued to stress the important role that the organization plays and will continue to play in this issue, saying, “Despite forced disappearance being criminalized indirectly, the organization [EOHR] believes that it is necessary to have an enact a special law on forced disappearances that criminalize all such acts and punish those who participate in such crimes, contribute to them, or instigate them.”

This, according to Shisha, should also be aided by the Egyptian House of Representatives, who he believes should overlook and monitor Egyptian Security Forces, “The House of Representatives should monitor security services and see the extent to which they commit to the Constitution and Laws [regarding forced disappearances].”

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Egyptian Organization for Human Rights holds seminar on ‘Forced Disappearance in Egypt’ - Egypt Today

As part of the session, Salam presented the NCHR’s report on forced disappearance, which showed that they have received 266 reports of forced disappearances; the fate of 238 of which was clarifies, and the remaining were found to have immigrated illegally or joined terrorist organizations. These conclusions, Salam assured, came after contacting the General Prosecution and the Ministry of the Interior.

To put things into context, Shalaby spoke about the phenomenon of forced disappearance in the Arab region, its history and its most famous cases, like the late Libyan politician Mansour Rashid El-Kikhia.

Shalaby also warned of the dangers of talking of forced disappearance and stirring things without first notifying the authorities and the Public Prosecution and waiting for an appropriate amount of time for them to do their investigations and turnover a response. He explained that it often turns out that many of those who are assumed to have disappeared in Egypt have actually joined terrorist groups.

Osman also joined the fruitful conversation and presented the report by the NCHR and the latest reports by the UN team. He also spoke of the EOHR’s recommendation for Egypt to sign the international convention prohibiting the forced disappearance (the OHCHR’s International Convention for the Protection of All Persons).

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Egyptian Organization for Human Rights holds seminar on ‘Forced Disappearance in Egypt’ - Egypt Today



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