Egypt: Young Activist Disappears After his Arrest by National Security Agents

Yousri Kamal Mohamed Abdallah

On 8 February 2017, Alkarama sent an urgent appeal to the United Nations Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances (WGEID) concerning the case of Yousri Kamal Mohamed Abdallah, a 30-year-old Egyptian activist who was arrested on 22 December 2016 by members of the National Security Forces. To date, and despite the numerous letters and requests introduced by his father to the authorities, the latter still refuse to disclose his fate and whereabouts. His case adds to the thousands of disappearances that occur in the country on a regular basis.

Abdallah was arrested on 22 December 2016 at 1.30 am in Ain Shams, Cairo Governorate, while he and his relatives were asleep. Members of the National Security Forces in plainclothes and Police forces stormed into his house after breaking his door, searched his room and arrested him without showing any warrant or providing any reason for the arrest. Abdallah was taken in an unmarked car to an unknown location.

According to information received by his family, Abdallah was detained at the National Security centre in Dar es Salaam, Cairo Governorate. However, when his family went to inquire about him, the authorities kept denying his detention and refused to provide them with any information. Despite the numerous complaints sent by his father to the Attorney General and the Ministry of Interior, no answer was ever given to the family, who is now living in a constant distress. His mother, who is paralysed, has been also particularly affected by her son’s disappearance.

“It appears that the reasons of Abdallah’s arrest and subsequent disappearance is linked to the fact that he was denouncing the appalling abuses such as abductions, torture and arbitrary detentions committed on a daily basis by the Egyptian security forces”, said Radidja Nemar, Alkarama's Regional Legal Officer for North Africa. “In his case, just like in so many others, the use of enforced disappearance is not insignificant: it is intended to terrorise all those who try to uncover the gross and widespread violations committed by the government and to silence criticism and dissent,” she continues.

Alkarama therefore requested the WGEID to promptly intervene with the authorities and urge them to immediately inform Yousri Kamal Mohamed Abdallah’s family of his fate and whereabouts and to immediately release him. Concerned about the widespread practice of enforced disappearances in Egypt, in April 2016, Alkarama sent a general allegation to the WGEID to denounce the severity of the phenomenon. In particular, Alkarama called on the Egyptian authorities to first release all individuals secretly detained and to place them under the protection of the law, and secondly urged them to immediately halt this systematic practice and urgently open prompt, independent and impartial investigations into every report of enforced disappearance. Alkarama also reminded that since these violations are systematic and widespread, they amount to a crime against humanity thus triggering international criminal responsibility of perpetrators and their superiors.

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