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Egyptian families of 'enforced disappearance' victims protest

Families of persons who were reportedly forcibly disappeared by Egyptian authorities held a demonstration outside parliament yesterday demanding to know the fate of their loved ones.

Ibrahim Metwally, the head of the Association for the Defence of Enforced Disappearance Victims, said he submitted to parliament a note signed by 13 families demanding that the parliament form a fact-finding committee and listen to the families’ complaints against security forces in order to reveal the fate of their loved ones.

“We organised a rally in front of the House of Representatives today… we were received by two officials at parliament, one of them is an administrative officer and the other a parliamentarian. We delivered the note, and agreed they would look at it and respond to us in one week.”

Defining enforced disappearance:

“An ‘enforced disappearance’ takes place when a person is arrested, detained or abducted against his or her will or otherwise deprived of their liberty by government officials or by organised groups or private individuals whose actions are condoned by the government in some way. That deprivation of liberty is followed by a refusal to disclose the fate or whereabouts of the persons concerned or a refusal to acknowledge the deprivation of their liberty. As a result of this conduct, the disappeared person is placed outside the protection of the law, impeding his or her recourse to legal remedies and guarantees of protection and placing him or her in a situation of complete defencelessness.”

Metwally said that his son Amr disappeared three years ago following clashes in the vicinity of the Rabaa sit-in in August 2013.
The note presented by the victims’ families to the parliament addressed the suffering of the families as a result of the disappearance of their loved ones in the wake of former President Mohamed Morsi’s ouster on 3 July 2013, when clashes between the police and army on one side and pro-democracy supporters on the other left scores dead, injured or detained.

The protest was held on the International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances.

According to report issued on Monday by a Cairo-based non-governmental organisation, the Egyptian Commission for Rights and Freedoms, 912 persons have been forcibly disappeared in the past year.

This came a day after a report by the Egyptian Coordination of Rights and Freedoms, also a Cairo-based NGO, said that there are around 1,001 documented cases of enforced disappearance during the first half of the year.

The Egyptian authorities constantly deny on the existence of enforced disappearance as a phenomenon in Egypt in the first place or cast doubt on the figures presented by non-governmental organisation about the number of victims.

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