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Enforced Disappearance

The crime of enforced disappearance is considered one of the most serious human rights violations and can amount to a crime against humanity when practiced in a systematic or widespread manner. Enforced disappearance is defined in article 2 of the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearances (ICPPED) as “[…] the arrest, detention, abduction or 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.”

This practice has been used in the Arab region for decades, and to date, thousands of families remain unaware of their relatives’ fate, and the cases pending before the Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances (WGEID) represent only the tip of the iceberg. Not only is enforced disappearance used to silence political opponents, journalists or human rights defenders, but it is also a tool to terrorise entire societies. Additionally, these disappearances are often coupled with other gross human rights violations, such as the practice of torture, which is facilitated by the fact that victims are placed outside of protection of the law and have no access to legal remedies.  

Lastly, the intense psychological suffering caused to the family of the victim by enforced disappearance has also been considered by the Human Rights Committee (HRCtee) as a form of torture and cruel inhumane and degrading treatment.

(14 February 2017) Dr. Mudawi Ibrahim Adam, a prominent Sudanese human rights defender, has been unlawfully detained for over two months, held by the National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS) at Khartoum’s Kober Prison without charge or access to legal representation, 39 human rights groups and activists said.

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.

On 25 January 2017, Alkarama alerted the United Nations Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances (WGEID) of the abduction of seven students – ranging from 16 to 22 years old – by the State Security between October 2016 and January 2017. Despite their families’ numerous attempts to clarify their fate and whereabouts, the authorities continue to deny their detention.

On 25 October 2011, Syrian political activist Mahmoud Al Merhi was arrested at an Air Force Intelligence checkpoint in Homs and remains disappeared since.

On 14 December 2016, the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (WGAD) published Opinion 60/2016 on the case of Egyptian citizen Omar Mabrouk first arrested by the Kuwaiti authorities in October 2015 and held in incommunicado detention before being

On 7 December 2016, Mudawi Ibrahim Adam Mudawi, a prominent Sudanese human rights defender, was abducted by members of the National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS) at Khartoum University.

On 21 December 2016, Alkarama alerted the United Nations Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances (WGEID) of the case of Mohamed Saber Mohamed Saber, an Egyptian man who disappeared on 12 September 2016. That day, Saber was abducted by members of the Police Forces at home in Alexandria, and has since gone missing, with the authorities denying any implication in his abduction and refusing to disclose his whereabouts.

On 20 December 2016, Alkarama sent an urgent appeal to the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (WGAD) concerning the case of Mohamed Saad Zekillah, a young student who was arrested on 9 November 2016 by the Homeland Security Forces. He was secretly detained for 17 days, during which he was repeatedly tortured. He reappeared on 23 November 2016, when he was brought before the Public Prosecutor of Alexandria and charged with “belonging to a terrorist group”.

Alkarama is deeply concerned by the ongoing crackdown against peaceful opposition politicians and demonstrators in Khartoum, Sudan. This repression led to the arbitrary arrest and detention of dozens of political opponents by the Sudanese National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS) in November 2016.

On 30 November 2016, Alkarama and Human Rights Guardians referred to the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic (CoI Syria) the case of Hani Hussein, a 37-year-old Syrian from Qamishli, who disappeared following his arre