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Egypt: Dozens Detained Secretly | Human Rights Watch

Souhaib Saad in a still from a video released by the Defense Ministry several weeks after his
disappearance. His brother told Human Rights Watch that Sa'ad was forced to repeat dictated
confessions after being tortured for 3 days.
Update: In response to a complaint by an Egyptian human rights group, the Working Group on
Enforced and Involuntary Disappearances (WGEID), a UN expert for the Office of the High
Commissioner for Human Rights raised the case of Asmaa Khalaf with the Egyptian government in
July 2014, Human Rights Watch has learned. The government responded in January 2015 that Khalaf
is not wanted by security forces and is not detained in any Egyptian prison. Inquiries indicate that
she was in a sentimental relationship with a doctor and it is rumored that they eloped together after
their families refused to allow them to marry.
A lawyer working with Khalafs family told Human Rights Watch that the Working Group had
informed him in April 2015 that it still considered the case a possible enforced disappearance.
Human Rights Watch said in its July 20, 2015 press release that the authorities had not given the
Khalaf family any response to their formal inquiries. A lawyer working with the family received an
October 26, 2014 communication from the Office of the Prosecutor General in Assiut saying that
officials in Assiut prison, Assiut National Security, and Qanater Womens Prison all denied having
Asmaa Khalaf in custody.
(Beirut) Egyptian security forces appear to have forcibly disappeared dozens of people. Egyptian
authorities should immediately disclose their whereabouts and hold those responsible to account.
The authorities should either release anyone illegally detained or charge the person with a
recognizable crime, bring them immediately before a judge to review their detention, and try them
before a court that meets international fair trial standards.
Enforced disappearances constitute a serious violation of international human rights law and, if
carried out systematically as a matter of policy, are a crime against humanity. Egypts allies,
especially the United States and European countries, should not participate in any assistance to
Egypts internal security forces until Egypt transparently investigates serious abuses such as alleged
enforced disappearance, Human Rights Watch said.
Egyptian security forces have apparently snatched up dozens of people without a word about where
they are or what has happened to them, said Joe Stork, deputy Middle East director. The failure of
the public prosecution to seriously investigate these cases reinforces the nearly absolute impunity
that security forces have enjoyed under President al-Sisi.
Human Rights Watch documented the cases of five people forcibly disappeared and two people most
likely forcibly disappeared between April 2014 and June 2015. In three of the cases, the people were
last seen in the custody of state officials, although state authorities initially denied that the people
had been detained or refused to reveal their whereabouts. In three cases, relatives and others who
knew the disappeared said that security forces had apprehended the victims. A doctor who was
disappeared in April 2014 remains unaccounted for.
International law defines enforced disappearances as:

[T]he arrest, detention,abductionor any other form of deprivation of liberty by agents of the State or
by persons or groups of persons acting with the authorization, support or acquiescence of the State,
followed by a refusal to acknowledge the deprivation of liberty or by concealment of the fate or
whereabouts of the disappeared person, which place such a person outside the protection of the law.
Under international law, enforced disappearances are never justified, even during times of
The cases Human Rights Watch documented show a clear pattern of prosecutors failing to conduct
transparent and independent investigations. In three cases, the peoples whereabouts were
determined days or weeks later either because state authorities eventually acknowledged their
detention or because other people saw them in official custody. In three other cases, individuals
believed to have been forcibly disappeared by the security forces and in official custody were found
dead after a period during which their whereabouts were unknown.
Egyptian rights organizations have credibly documented scores of additional cases of enforced
disappearances in 2015 and in some cases from 2013. In a June 7, 2015 report, Freedom for the
Brave, an independent group offering support to detainees, documented what it said were 164 cases
of enforced disappearance since April and said that the whereabouts of at least 66 remained
unknown. The report listed 64 people whose whereabouts were revealed after more than 24 hours,
the maximum time allowed to detain someone without charge under Egyptian law.
In its latest annual report, released May 31, the quasi-governmental National Council for Human
Rights (NCHR) stated that it had verified nine cases of enforced disappearance. The report did not
state whether prosecutors had investigated any of these cases. On June 9, the NCHR said it would
review 55 cases of alleged enforced disappearance that their families had presented in a meeting. In
an email to Human Rights Watch on July 9, the council said it had created a committee to look into
complaints of enforced disappearances.
Khaled Abd al-Hamid, a Freedom for the Brave coordinator who attended the NCHR meeting, said
he learned about 39 additional cases that his group had not previously documented. Most took place
in April and May 2015, but some dated from the time of the ouster of Mohamed Morsy, Egypts first
freely elected president, in July 2013.
The Egyptian Commission for Rights and Freedoms, an independent group, shared with Human
Rights Watch detailed information about 14 other people who disappeared in the two months
following the militarys removal of Morsy and have never reappeared. Their families filed official
police reports and complaints to prosecutors, who never investigated, Mohamed Lotfy, the founder
of the group, told Human Rights Watch.
The Interior Ministry has denied or refused to comment on alleged enforced disappearances. A
senior unnamed police official told Agence France Press in June 2015, We don't use these methods.
If anyone has proof, they should file a formal complaint to the Interior Ministry. Lotfy said the
authorities have not responded to most complaints filed by independent groups, and it appears that
the same is true for complaints relayed by the NCHR. Salah Salam, an NCHR member, told Al-Tahrir
newspaper, What is the use of receiving and reviewing complaints, while no one is answering them
Ezzat Ghoneim, a lawyer with the Egyptian Coordination for Rights and Freedoms, an independent
group that has documented violations against the Muslim Brotherhood, said that in March, it filed
suit on behalf of four families against the president and interior minister at the Administrative Court

and asked the judge to request authorities to disclose the fate and whereabouts of a number of
disappeared people. The court has yet to rule on any of them. Ghoneim said that criminal courts had
rejected four lawsuits his group filed against the prosecutor general for failing to investigate alleged
enforced disappearance and that the group would appeal those rejections to the Cassation Court.
Egyptian security forces have apparently snatched up dozens of people without a word about where
they are or what has happened to them. The failure of the public prosecution to seriously investigate
these cases reinforces the nearly absolute impunity that security forces have enjoyed under
President al-Sisi. Joe Stork deputy Middle East director
The United Nations Working Group on Enforced Disappearances said in its most recent report, in
September 2014, that it had 52 outstanding cases in Egypt under review. The group expressed
concern that the situation continues to deteriorate in Egypt, which may facilitate the occurrence of
multiple human rights violations, including enforced disappearance.
If Egypts public prosecutors take no action to ensure the police and other security personnel follow
the law and release detainees from secret detention, then they risk being complicit in those
disappearances, Stork said.
Accounts of Enforced Disappearance Cases
Human Rights Watch interviewed three lawyers, five rights activists, and four journalists, as well as
close relatives in all except one of the seven cases, but agreed not to name some of those
interviewed for security reasons. Human Rights Watch wrote to Egypts National Council for Human
Rights requesting information regarding enforced disappearances.
Human Rights Watch also obtained documentation of 14 cases investigated by the Egyptian
Commission for Rights And Freedoms, the list of 164 cases of alleged enforced disappearances
collected by Freedom of the Brave, and three lists identifying a total of 786 people alleged to have
been forcibly disappeared in March, April, and May compiled by the Egyptian Coordination for
Rights and Freedoms.
Asmaa Khalaf
Asmaa Khalaf is a resident gynecologist at Assiut University hospitals, in southern Egypt. Her
brother, Mohamed Khalaf, told Human Rights Watch that she was last seen leaving the doctors
living quarters at her hospital at about 7:30 a.m. on April 18, 2014, and has been missing ever since.
He said that she was travelling to their home in Sohag governorate for vacation. The next day, her
family filed a police report at Assiut police station. The authorities have not given them any
information about Khalaf in response to their official request, although informally some security
officials have told them that National Security Agency of the Interior Ministry is holding her.
On April 23, 2014, the Assiut prosecutor general wrote to two telecom companies that Khalaf used
for her mobile phones authorizing them to disclose information regarding her account to her
brother, Mohamed, including calls she made or received and where her phone was last located. He
told Human Rights Watch that information from the service providers indicated the phone had been
switched off at about 7:45 a.m. near the doctors dorm on the day she disappeared.
He said that a National Security officer who spoke unofficially with him about 10 days after his
sisters disappearance said that they took her to the National Security headquarters in Assiut and
then moved her to a place he did not know. Mohamed Khalaf used connections and friends to speak

with army and police officers in Assiut, who confirmed that National Security had arrested her and
that she was being treated well and would be released once interrogations are done. He also met
with the head of National Security in Assiut, who denied that the agency had arrested Khalaf.
Human Rights Watch obtained copies of letters that Mohamed Khalaf and his lawyers sent to
government officials about the case, including several to Assiut governorates top prosecutor and the
prosecutor general in Cairo as well as to former Interior Minister Mohamed Ibrahim and theninterim President Adly Mansour. Khalaf said he also contacted the Doctors Syndicate, which in turn
sent an official inquiry to the prosecutor generals office.
He said he had sent a letter to the National Council for Human Rights after his sisters disappearance
but received no reply. He said he filed another complaint when families met with the NCHR on June
9, 2015.
Khalaf told Human Rights Watch that he thought his sister had been arrested because she was
religious and wearing the niqab, a womans garment that covers all but the eyes. He said that his
fathers health deteriorated following Khalafs disappearance and that he died in February.
Islam Atito
Islam Atito was a student in his final year at Ain Shams University School of Engineering. Witness
accounts indicate that he was probably apprehended by authorities on May 19, 2015. One family
member told Human Rights Watch on May 22 that the day he disappeared they searched for him in
hospitals and police stations but that no one acknowledged his presence. On May 20, the Interior
Ministry claimed in a statement on Facebook that Atito had been killed in a shootout with security
forces who had been searching for those responsible for the April 21 assassination of Col. Wael
Tahoun, former head of investigations at Cairos Matariya police station. Numerous detainees have
died in custody at this facility since July 2013. A previously little-known group called the Execution
Battalion took responsibility for Tahouns killing on Facebook the day after the killing, saying it was
revenge for the death in custody of lawyer Karim Hamdy.
The Interior Ministrys May 20 statement accused the Muslim Brotherhood of participating in
Tahouns killing and claimed that Atito was a Brotherhood member. The ministry said that security
forces had tracked Atito to a hiding place along a desert path in Cairos Fifth Settlement suburb,
where Atito opened fire on the security forces and that they had returned fire, killing him.
The close relative of Atito and fellow students who published accounts on Facebook presented a
contradictory version of the events. These accounts said Atito was most likely arrested on the Ain
Shams University campus after taking a final exam on May 19.
A statement by the Ain Shams Engineering student union said that a university administration
employee accompanied by another man came into room 260A of the university during an exam and
asked for Atito, saying he should go to the student affairs office after the exam. After Atito finished
the exam, the unknown man took him away, the statement said. Two anonymous accounts by people
who said they were witnesses appeared in Daily News Egypt, an independent news platform, and the
privately owned Al-Masry Al-Youm newspaper. Both said that men in civilian clothes chased and
apprehended Atito and put him in a car inside the campus. One of those who chased Atito was
holding a radio, one witness said.
The family member who spoke with Human Rights Watch said he last saw Atito at about 10 a.m. on
May 19 at the university and that the family heard nothing more until the next day, when they

learned from news reports that he had died. When they went to collect his body from the morgue, he
said, they found that the death certificate stated that Atito was shot in the head, chest, and abdomen
and had lacerations on his neck. The relative, who said he saw Atitos body in the morgue, said that
there were signs of torture on his body. The relative said that at least 10 of Atitos colleagues
confirmed to the family the student unions account of Atitos disappearance. The relative also said
that Atito was not a member of any group but had taken part in anti-government protests after the
January 2011 uprising.
Atitos funeral attracted large numbers of students and sympathizers, some of whom were arrested
when the funeral turned into a spontaneous protest and released shortly after. In the video his
mother appeared to be crying and said that Atitos ribs and one arm had been broken. Students
investigating Atitos case told Sharif Abdel Kuddous, a journalist, that they had received threatening
anonymous phone calls warning them to back off.
The Association of Freedom of Thought and Expression, an independent Egyptian group, issued a
detailed report on the incident. A researcher for the association told Human Rights Watch that the
family declined to seek assistance and to appoint a lawyer. One witness cited in the associations
report, who said he was in the exam hall with Atito, gave the researcher an account of Atitos
disappearance that matched the student unions statement.
A couple of days after Atitos killing, prosecutors opened an investigation and told Mohamed
Suleiman, Atitos professor in the class for which he took the exam on May 19, to submit Atitos exam
paper as evidence that Atito took the exam. Suleiman told Human Rights Watch that he was not in
the exam hall but was in direct communication with the supervisor of the exam hall, who confirmed
that Atito was there.
An official faculty statement said that prosecutors visited the School of Engineering and met with
the administration, which gave them documents, including Atitos examination papers. Suleiman said
that prosecutors invited him to watch video footage recorded by a surveillance camera installed on
the top of the campus gates. He said that the camera on gate three showed the beginning of a chase.
Atito first went out quietly at about 11:23 a.m., 20 minutes after the exam ended, but came back
with two people walking behind him, Suleiman said. The last images show Atito beginning to run
toward an unused part of the campus, and the two men starting to run after him, he said.
Suleiman said that prosecutors confiscated the recording but that he did not know if they also took
recordings from other cameras. He said that he could not identify those chasing Atito.
News reports said that prosecutors summoned police officers for questioning about Atitos killing, as
well as several students and other witnesses. The Forensic Medical Authority autopsy report
confirmed that Atito was shot five times but did not mention signs of torture. On May 30,
prosecutors referred the case to the State Security Prosecution.
On May 28, prosecutors who investigated Atitos case submitted the documents they collected to the
state security prosecutors who were investigating Tahouns killing to re-investigate Tahouns killing
from the beginning. An independent prosecutor should investigate the circumstances surrounding
Atitos death, Human Rights Watch said.
Sabry al-Ghoul
Sabry al-Ghoul, 45, was a prominent activist in al-Arish, a city in North Sinai governorate, and a
member of the large Fawakhriya clan. People knowledgeable about his case said that police arrested

him on or around May 20 and released him on May 26, apparently without charging him with any
offense. Several days later, it is unclear exactly when, army officers arrested him again at his home.
The armed forces spokesmans Facebook page on June 2 gave statistics about arrests of wanted
suspects in May, saying the army had arrested 71 people. It claimed that the most prominent was alGhoul, whom it described as a leader in the Brotherhood terrorist group. The statement, which did
not include the date of al-Ghouls arrest, claimed that all those arrested were sent to investigation
bodies to take the legal measures against them.
Because Human Rights Watch was unable to determine the precise date of al-Ghouls detention and
whether the authorities acknowledged his detention prior to the June 2 statement, Human Rights
Watch cannot state conclusively that al-Ghouls case was an enforced disappearance.
A few hours after the June 2 statement was posted, al-Ghouls body was delivered to al-Arish
Hospital. The statement did not clarify the date al-Ghoul was arrested.
The armed forces did not comment after al-Ghouls death and no other government official has
clarified the time, place, or cause of death. Some pro-government newspapers said that al-Ghoul
died due to acute circulatory failure, a phrase commonly written in death certificates of many
suspicious deaths in Egypt. Other privately owned newspapers said that al-Ghoul died in mysterious
Two Sinai activists told Human Rights Watch that al-Ghoul was not a Muslim Brotherhood leader
and that he was a well-known and respected activist in al-Arish. He had belonged to the then-ruling
National Democratic Party before the 2011 uprising. One activist said that al-Ghoul participated in
pro-Morsy protests after security forces began using violence against protesters because his
message was to stop violence. A journalist from al-Arish who was outside Egypt at the time told
Human Rights Watch that he could not get the familys account of what happened because it was
unsafe to talk.
One of the activists said that al-Ghoul was arrested once before and released in May, not long before
his final arrest. One journalist from the city of al-Arish, a friend of al-Ghoul who said he was in touch
with the relatives, told Human Rights Watch that the relatives said al-Ghoul had bruises in his pelvis
and chest and red spots behind his ears. The prosecutor has not announced an investigation into alGhouls death.
Esraa al-Taweel, Omar Ali, and Souhaib Saad
Three university students, Esraa al-Taweel and her two friends Omar Ali and Souhaib Saad, all in
their early 20s, were apparently arrested on June 1 as they walked along the Nile River cornice in
Cairos Maadi neighborhood, according to four members of their families who spoke with Human
Rights Watch. Interior Ministry officials repeatedly denied arresting any of them but more than two
weeks later relatives saw them in various detention facilities. Shortly thereafter, prison authorities
allowed them to start receiving family visits.
Al-Taweel lived with her two younger sisters in Cairo. Her parents and three other siblings live
abroad. One sister, Doua, told Human Rights Watch that Ali and Saad came to al-Taweels home at
about 5 p.m. on June 1 to go for an outing.
Esraa is disabled, her sister said. She was injured by a bullet when she was participating in a protest
in the 2014 anniversary of the January 2011 uprising. She cannot go out alone.

Al-Taweel used a wheelchair for months, then was able to walk with crutches or with her friends
assistance, Doua al-Taweel told Human Rights Watch. She said that Alaa, the other sister who lived
with them, called al-Taweel to check in with her at about 8 p.m., and that another friend was in
touch with al-Taweel at about 9 p.m. After that, all three students phones were switched off, said
Sarah Ali, Omar Alis sister, and Osama Saad, Souhaib Saads brother.
Relying on sources they declined to identify, the families said they managed to identify the last place
the three were by tracking the last saved GPS location of their mobile phones before they were
switched off.
Three family members said the locations had been at or close to Maadi police station, in southern
Cairo. Al-Taweels father, Mahfouz al-Taweel, said the families asked their sources to help determine
the students whereabouts a few days later, but the sources said that the GPS data had been deleted
from the servers.
Doua al-Taweel said that relatives of the three went to Maadi police station on June 2, a day after
their disappearance. Officers there denied that the three were there and said that their names were
not in the station log. One policeman told them to wait until he checked a room they referred to as
al-tallaga, an Egyptian word referring to a refrigerator. The sister said the policeman told her that
they put detainees in this room when they want to keep them in incommunicado detention or if they
are charged in national security cases.
A short while later, the policeman returned and said that the three were not there. He pointed at
another building behind the station that resembled a villa and said the detainees could be there. Alis
sister Sarah said she described al-Taweel to the police officer as a limping girl with two young males
and that the policeman acknowledged that people fitting this description had been arrested but was
afraid to talk. She said lawyers and activists told her that they had not known that this villa was a
National Security building. Sarah said that only one narrow street full of police and barriers led to
the villa.
Al-Taweels father, Mahfouz al-Taweel, said that the family filed complaints to the presidency, the
prosecutor general, and the Interior Ministry the day after al-Taweels disappearance, but that none
had replied.
On June 8, he said, he spoke by telephone with Manchette (Headline), a television news show
broadcast by the privately owned ONtv network, at a time when Maj. Gen. Abu Bakr Abd al-Karim,
from the media department of the Interior Ministry, was a guest on the show. When al-Taweel
accused agents of State Security renamed National Security in 2011 of kidnapping his daughter, Abd
al-Karim rejected the accusations and said, If Esraa was in custody at any security agency, all legal
measures would have been followedand [she would have been] placed in custody according to an
order from the prosecution.
The host, journalist Gaber al-Armouty, asked Abd al-Karim if family members and lawyers should be
informed when police arrest someone. Abd al-Karim responded, Legal procedures are followed. AlArmouty repeated the question, and Abd al-Karim said, The family should know one way or another.
Al-Armouty asked if a lawyer should be informed, and Abd al-Karim said Yes, exactly this. No
member of the Interior Ministry has ever acknowledged arresting al-Taweel, Ali, or Saad.
Al-Taweels father and sister both said that al-Taweel had not been involved in politics or protests
since she was injured in January 2014. They also said she had never been arrested or charged with a
crime. They said they were concerned that al-Taweel had been deprived of her medication during

her disappearance. Al-Taweel also missed the last one or two of her universitys final exams, her
father said.
Her sisters said that a woman who was visiting her imprisoned relative at al-Qanater womens prison
told them she saw al-Taweel there on June 16. When Doua al-Taweel and other relatives went to the
prison the next day to ask about al-Taweel, officials denied them access but they observed her being
transferred to a prison car to take her to a prosecutors office. This was the first moment we saw
Esraa in 17 days, Doua al-Taweel said.
She said they followed al-Taweel to the prosecutions office and learned from a volunteer lawyer that
this was the third time she had been brought there, but the lawyer said he could not obtain any
information about the cases in which al-Taweel was involved. Late that night, June 17, uniformed
security forces came to the al-Taweel home and asked for Doua al-Taweel. The officer in charge
refused to show a warrant or reveal his identity or his affiliation but took all laptops in the house and
told Doua al-Taweel to sign a paper promising to attend the next mornings session with al-Taweel at
the prosecution office. Al-Taweels family first refused to turn over the laptops without a prosecutors
order, but the officer told them he would beat them and take whatever he wanted.
At the session the next day, al-Taweel did not appear, but her family was allowed to visit her. One
relative said that because several female prison wardens were present, al-Taweel appeared unable
to tell them much detail about what happened during her disappearance, but said she had been held
in National Security Agency headquarters in Cairos Lazoghly Square.
Al-Taweels lawyer, Halim Hanish, told Human Rights Watch that he and other lawyers managed to
attend the prosecutors interrogation of al-Taweel on June 27 but that the prosecutor denied the
lawyers access to any documents. The prosecutor told them that al-Taweel was under pretrial
detention and charged with belonging to the Muslim Brotherhood, designated by the government as
a terrorist organization, and with disseminating false news.
Al-Taweels health is deteriorating as there is no proper health care in the prison, Hanish said. Her
family is concerned that shes losing the ability to walk for lack of physical therapy. The lawyers
request to transfer her to a place with proper health care facilities had received no response, Hanish
said on July 10.
Prosecutors had previously charged Souhaib Saad alongside other students in a prominent case
against Al Jazeera journalists. Authorities arrested Saad on January 2, 2014, and released him on
February 12, 2015, after the Court of Cassation ordered a retrial.
Sohaib Saads brother Osama said that his brother was required to appear daily at the Haram police
station in Giza governorate, in the western part of greater Cairo. When Osama Saad went to the
police station on June 2 to report that his brother had disappeared the previous day, officers there
asked him for an official police report proving that he had been arrested. Osama Saad said that
during a June 4 court session in the Al Jazeera retrial, the judge said that if Saad did not show up he
would order his arrest.
Sarah Ali, Omar Alis sister, said that authorities repeatedly denied that Ali or Saad were in prison.
She said that Alis friends made a hashtag for him, freedom for the unimportant detainee, reflecting
how little he cared about politics. She said that relatives of other inmates in Tora Prison informed
Alis and Saads families that they had seen the two men there.
Authorities continued to deny that the men were being held but finally allowed the families to visit

on June 25 and 26, Sarah Ali and Osama Saad said. They confirmed that both Ali and Saad were held
in Tora prison after being detained for weeks in the National Security Agency headquarters and in a
military intelligence building in Cairo. The relatives said that both Ali and Saad said the military
prosecution interrogated them twice in the absence of lawyers while their families were still looking
for them.
Osama Saad said that on June 29, Saad appeared at a court hearing in the Al Jazeera case after
missing two sessions in which the judge considered him a fugitive and refused to acknowledge he
was in custody. The brother said that when Saad finally appeared in court the judge said: If you only
knew what I did to bring you to the session!
Both families said the lawyers have not been able to obtain any official information about the cases
Ali and Saad are involved in or the nature of the charges against them.
On July 10, several Egyptian TV channels broadcasted a video statement that was first posted on the
Defense Ministry YouTube channel announcing the arrest of what it alleged to be one of the most
dangerous terrorist cells belonging to special operations unit of the terrorist Brotherhood
organization. The statement named both Ali and Saad as among those accused of being part of the
monitoring and information collecting unit of the group. The army statement alleged that it had
arrested all members of the cell from their headquarters following permission of the judicial bodies
and that it found a number of guns, explosives, and ammunition. The video showed several people,
including Saad, confessing their alleged roles in the group.
My brother was in prison for over a year and then he was then requested to show every day in the
police station, Osama Saad said. When did he manage to do all of this? They say he was arrested
from [our] home with explosives and guns but we know he was arrested from the street. Osama said
that his brother told them he was tortured. He didnt tell us much details but he said he was
electrocuted while suspended for three days from his wrists.
Al-Sayed al-Rassed
Al-Sayed al-Rassed, 46, worked at a city government hospital in Banha, the capital of Qalyubia
governorate. Security forces, consisting of several police in civilian clothes and a Central Security
Forces officer and soldiers in uniform, arrested him at about 2 a.m. on June 4, 2015, his son
Mohamed told Human Rights Watch. They did not say where they were taking him, and three days
later, al-Rasseds family received a call from the assistant to the mayor of their town asking them to
retrieve his fathers body, which was in the hospital morgue. When Mohamed went to the morgue
workers told him an ambulance delivered his fathers body there without providing any details.
Mohamed al-Rassed described his fathers arrest: They suddenly started to destroy our door but I
hurried to open it for them. They asked about my father and I asked them for a few minutes until the
women could cover their bodies. They started searching the house and they found nothing but a few
papers that they took, including our house contract.
He said the officer did not show a warrant when asked but said the officers were taking his father to
Banha police station. The next morning, officers at the Banha police center told Mohamed al-Rassed
that they had not sent any arrest patrol out the previous night and speculated that his father might
have been taken to the Banha Central Security Forces (CSF) camp.
Egypts CSF are paramilitary forces often used to confront protests and riots and to defend
government facilities. Egyptian rights groups repeatedly documented the illegal use of CSF camps

as detention facilities. In December 2014, an Egyptian human rights lawyer and relatives of the
detained told Human Rights Watch that police illegally held dozens of detainees including children
in the camp. Mohamed said his father opposed the current government but did not join protests
Mohamed al-Rassed said he filed an urgent complaint with the prosecutor in Banha, saying that his
father was missing. He said he sought lawyers help, many of whom refused and told him they were
afraid to work on such cases. The authorities continued to deny that they were holding al-Rassed at
the Banha CSF camp, but the son said that a lawyer he had engaged to work on his fathers case
confirmed on June 6 that his father was in the CSF camp, as did some released detainees.
Torture marks were all over his body, Mohamed al-Rassed said, describing what he believed to be
marks of electrocution and beating.
He said he discovered that the local prosecutor had ordered an autopsy of his fathers body. The
prosecutor told him that he did so because the police alleged that al-Rassed had hanged himself, but
he had not been found with rope around his neck. When the prosecutor removed al-Rasseds clothes,
he found marks that raised questions, the son said. The death certificate Mohamed al-Rassed
received did not state the reason for his fathers death. In the first interview, shortly after al-Rasseds
death, his son said that the Forensic Authority doctor might face pressure not to submit a report.
He said that the police report said that his father hanged himself. The police report to the
prosecution office also stated that his father had been arrested on June 7, three days after he had in
fact been taken away.
The arrest charges against his father included joining a terrorist group (i.e. the Muslim
Brotherhood) and training others to attack the police and army. Mohamed al-Rassed said he did not
continue reading the charges against his father because of how unbelievable they were. He said that
his fathers signature was missing from the report. Mohamed al-Rassed said that the police report
said that a National Security officer named Mohamed Ahmed took al-Rassed from his home. The son
asked the prosecutor to allow him to see the officer to determine if he was the one who took his
father but the prosecutor did not respond.
He later said that the forensic report was delivered to the prosecutor more than 20 days after his
fathers death and that the prosecutor investigating his fathers case was replaced. The autopsy
report claimed that al-Rassed hanged himself but did not provide the time or place of death. On a
subsequent visit, the son said, the prosecutor allowed him to read the report but refused to give him
a copy.
Enforced Disappearances and the Law
Egypt is a state party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights that prohibits
arbitrary and illegal detentions according to article 9, which also necessitates compensation. Egypt
is also a party to the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights, whose Principles and Guidelines
on the Right to a Fair Trial and Legal Assistance require state authorities to inform the family or
friends of a detained person, guarantee the detainee access to legal representation, and bring a
detained person before a judicial authority to determine the legality of any detention order. Egypt
has not ratified the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced
Disappearance, which the UN adopted in 1992, nor the Rome Statute of the International Criminal
Court (ICC), which includes enforced disappearances among the crimes over which the ICC has

The crime of enforced disappearance may simultaneously violate multiple non-derogable human
rights protections rights that cannot be suspended including the right to life, freedom from torture
or inhuman and degrading treatment, and freedom from arbitrary arrest and detention. It is also an
ongoing violation that continues so long as the disappeared person remains missing.
Egypts code of criminal procedure requires the authorities to have a prosecution order to make an
arrest, except in cases in which they witness someone in the act of committing a crime. It also
requires police to present any detainee to prosecutors within 24 hours, and prosecutors to charge
the detainee based on evidence or release the person immediately.
International law requires that all detainees be brought promptly (i.e. within days) before a judicial
officer or equivalent to review the legality and necessity of their detention. Under Egyptian law,
prosecutors can order up to four days of detention pending investigation. After that, only a judge can
extend pretrial detention, for up to 45 days, renewable. An Egyptian lawyer who works closely with
detained activists told Human Rights Watch that in practice prosecutors take over judicial powers
and decide whether to extend pretrial detention in national security cases.