Amnesty: Egypt Forcibly Disappearing Hundreds to Tighten Noose on Dissent

Egypt Protest Dissent Security Forces
Egyptian journalists take part in a protest outside the Syndicate headquarters in Cairo on May 3, a day after police stormed the headquarters of the journalists' association and arrested two journalists. Amnesty alleged in a report released on Wednesday that Egyptian security forces are forcibly disappearing hundreds in order to silence dissent. Khaled Desouki/AFP/Getty Images

Egyptian security forces are abducting, torturing and forcibly disappearing people in an effort to intimidate opponents and wipe out peaceful dissent, Amnesty International said in a new report released on Wednesday.

The report, entitled "Egypt: 'Officially, you do not exist': Disappeared and tortured in the name of counter-terrorism", shines a light on alleged human rights abuses by the regime of Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, a key security partner for many Western countries in the region, particularly the U.S.

More than 1,000 people are believed to have been killed at the hands of Egyptian security forces and tens of thousands imprisoned since Sisi overthrew Muslim Brotherhood leader Mohamed Morsi, the country's first democratically elected leader, in July 2013. But the Egyptian government denies allegations of forced disappearances, torture and mistreatment.

The allegations of forced disappearances are not solely limited to Egyptians either. Earlier this year, the body of Italian postgraduate student Giulio Regeni was discovered by a roadside on the outskirts of Cairo with signs of torture on his body after going missing for days. Italian officials pointed the finger at the Egyptian security services but the government defended its forces, saying his murder was committed by criminals.

"This report reveals the shocking and ruthless tactics that the Egyptian authorities are prepared to employ in their efforts to terrify protesters and dissidents into silence," said Philip Luther, director of the Middle East and North Africa Programme at Amnesty International.

"Enforced disappearance has become a key instrument of state policy in Egypt. Anyone who dares to speak out is at risk, with counter-terrorism being used as an excuse to abduct, interrogate and torture people who challenge the authorities," he continued.

He said that while Egyptian authorities have denied the use of forced disappearances, there is high-level collusion between the forces and the Egyptian judiciary, who "have been prepared to lie to cover their tracks or failed to investigate torture allegations, making them complicit in serious human rights violations."

In one case, Amnesty alleges that Mazen Mohamed Abdallah, arrested at the age of 14 in September 2015 for support of the Muslim Brotherhood, suffered abuse including being repeatedly raped with a wooden stick in order to extract a false "confession," Amnesty says in the report.

In another case detailed in the report, Egyptian security forces are said to have detained Aser Mohamed at the age of 14 for 34 days in January 2016 at Egypt's National Security Agency offices in Greater Cairo. Amnesty says they beat him, gave him electric shocks on different areas of his body and suspended him from his limbs in order to extract a false confession. A state security prosecutor then threatened him with more electric shocks after he attempted to retract his "confessions."