Egypt’s national security Agency (NSA) is abducting, torturing and forcibly disappearing people in an effort to intimidate opponents and wipe out peaceful dissent, according to a new Amnesty International report. The report shows a trend which has seen hundreds of students, political activists and protesters, including children as young as 14, vanish without trace. On average, three to four people per day are seized according to local NGOs, usually when heavily-armed security forces led by NSA officers storm their homes. Amnesty said many of these people are held for months at a time and often kept blindfolded and handcuffed for the entire period.
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.
Colm O’Gorman, executive director of Amnesty International Ireland, said the 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". The report features details of 17 people subjected to enforced disappearance, who were held for periods ranging from several days to seven months. Amnesty said these people were “cut off from the outside world and denied access to their lawyers, families or any independent judicial oversight”, as well as many being tortured – including children.