By Marwa Al-A’asar
CAIRO: The Egyptian Organization for Human Rights (EOHR) called on the ruling army council and the Prosecutor General Wednesday to open a transparent investigation into 57 cases of forced disappearance registered since 1992.
“The organization urges the prosecutor general to immediately look into the reports filed by human rights groups and announce whatever legal measures taken in this respect,” the statement read.
EOHR further demanded the interior minister to urgently assume responsibility of these cases and the rights of their families as per international conventions and human rights agreements.
In August 2003, deputy editor of state-owned Al-Ahram newspaper Reda Helal disappeared without a trace from his house in downtown Cairo.
Rumors said following the ousted of president Hosni Mubarak on Feb. 11 that Helal had criticized the inheritance of power scenario in Egypt. In the same month, the Journalists’ Syndicate filed a complaint before Prosecutor General Abdel-Meguid Mahmoud accusing former interior minister Habib El-Adly of kidnapping Helal.
Osama Helal, Reda Helal’s brother, said in media statements at the time that he had proof the latter was detained by the notorious state security services, later disbanded on March 15.
“The Egyptian law does not entail a direct article defining the crime of forced disappearance or criminalizing it,” EOHR Secretary General Hafez Abou Seada said. “Only article 280 of the penal code criminalized the arrest, detention or imprisonment of any citizen without a warrant issued by the concerned authority.”
Opposition leader ex-Libyan foreign minister Mansour El-Kikhya also faced a similar destiny during his a visit Egypt in December 1993.
A few years later, an international committee investigating El-Kikhya’s disappearance accused Libya, Egypt and the US of hiding information about the incident.
A recent US State department report on human rights in the world said 36 cases of forced disappearance in Egypt in 2010 had been documented by local and international human rights groups.