By Tim Nanns and Yousef Saba
A report by the Arab Organisation for Human Rights in the United Kingdom (AOHR) mourns extrajudicial killings, forced disappearances, unlawful arrests, deaths under dubious circumstances and a lack of investigations in all of them by the Egyptian security forces. Released on Monday by the organization, it provides a detailed list of disappearances and mysterious deaths.
The report lists for the second quarter of 2015 21 cases of people who were purportedly killed during anti terror operations of Egyptian security forces or died under unknown circumstances but were, according to relatives and sometimes evidence, killed while in custody.
Hafez Abu Saada, member of the government-affiliated National Council for Human Rights (NCHR), bluntly denied the accusations of the report to Daily News Egypt, stating that the UK-based AOHR was “not credible” due to its history and claiming that it’s being funded by the Muslim Brotherhood and Qatar-based media outlet Al-Jazeera.
Talking to Daily News Egypt, a spokesperson for the Brotherhood denied any involvement with the AOHR but applauded the report for “trying to awaken the consciousness of the world community” and showing “the reality of Egypt nowadays.”
The ‘reality’ of the report also mentions a rise in forced disappearances, amounting to 764 since the beginning of the year along with deaths by torture and deaths due to medical negligence of detainees.
Mohamed Zare’, head of the Arab Penal Reform Organisation, was not sure how to judge the findings, stating that the information provided by the organisation could be true, but needn’t necessarily be, demanding a response by the government to the accusations.
The Brotherhood though praised the quality of British research on that topic, mentioning that European institutions “never gave in to the international pressure” allegedly executed by the oil-rich countries of the gulf. Its spokesperson also noted that only after Morsi’s ouster terrorism became a problem for Egypt, blaming it on widespread dissatisfaction with the military’s crackdown on civil rights and its “ouster of the president of the people.”
Zare’ in his statement to Daily News Egypt was also critical of the general tendencies of most human rights reports on Egypt, claiming that, even though some of the accusations might be true, any report on Egypt needs to give information about terroristic activities and atrocities committed by militants in order to be “a truly objective report.” Zare’ also indicated that such a report could really be beneficial to Egypt if it is able to show the whole picture.
Concluding the report, the AOHR mourns the alleged habit of Egyptian authorities to poorly investigate complaints over torture or general mistreatment under custody, sometimes ignoring them completely. That leads the authors to the conclusion that, facing such a lack of investigation, “these violations have reached a certain limit, indicating that they’re not just individual practices […] but a fixed approach carried out under the supervision and auspices of the Egyptian authorities,” mirroring similar findings by an FIDH report from May.
Egyptian authorities and security forces are regularly confronted by criticism from human rights watchdogs such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch. While criticism also existed during Mohamed Morsi’s reign as president, the new government of President Al-Sisi is engaged in an increasingly furious dispute with the international organisations, accusing them of affiliation with the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood.