Egypt urged to reveal whereabouts of missing deportees

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi attends the opening session of the 30th Arab League summit in the Tunisian capital Tunis on March 31, 2019. (Photo by FETHI BELAID / POOL / AFP)

Human Rights Watch on Thursday urged Egyptian authorities to reveal the whereabouts of at least five Egyptians deported home from Malaysia and Turkey fearing they may face “torture and ill-treatment”.

“Since Egypt has a dire record of systematic torture, forcible disappearances, and unfair trials of dissidents, it is imperative for the authorities to provide full legal access to these deportees,” said Michael Page, HRW’s deputy director for the Middle East and North Africa.

Malaysian authorities said they deported six Egyptians and one Tunisian in early March over their alleged plans to carry out terror attacks in other countries.

Ankara, which has strained relations with Cairo and is accused of being a haven for Egyptian Islamist exiles, has launched an investigation into the deportation of one man from Turkey to Egypt.

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The man identified as Mohamed Abdelhafiz had been sentenced to death in absentia over the assassination of Egypt’s prosecutor general Hisham Barakat in a car bomb in 2015.

In a statement released on Thursday, HRW said it had established the identities of four prisoners deported from Malaysia to Egypt and one from Turkey. All of them had Islamist backgrounds.

The New York-based organisation said they were now “at serious risk of torture and ill-treatment in Egypt” and “could face severe torture and unfair trials”. No official response has been provided from Egyptian authorities regarding the deported men to date.

Following the military ouster of president Mohamed Morsi in 2013, authorities have cracked down on dissent, targeting thousands of Islamists as well as secular activists.

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Egypt specifically outlawed Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood deeming it a terror group in late 2013. Rights groups have consistently criticised Egypt’s ongoing crackdown but the government insists the measures are necessary to maintain stability and counter-terrorism.

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