In a report released this month, human rights group Amnesty International said the Egyptian government is hiding, torturing and killing people in an effort to "intimidate government critics and opponents and to deter dissent."
In the report, called "Egypt: 'Officially, you do not exist,'" focuses on the influx of forced disappearances conducted under the rule of Egyptian president Abdel Fattah el-Sisi.
The report asserts that since June 2013, when the Muslim Brotherhood leader Mohammed Morsi — the first democratically elected leader in the country — was overthrown, el-Sisi's forces have detained tens of thousands of people with no trial or prison sentence, or put to death after "grossly unfair trials."
Local organizations told Amnesty International that three to four people are forcibly disappeared every day.
"Enforced disappearance has become a key instrument of state policy in Egypt," said Philip Luther, director of the Middle East and North Africa Programme at Amnesty International in a statement. "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.
The report goes on to say the disappearances began when el-Sisi appointed Major-General Magdy Abdel-Ghaffar as Minister of Interior. Abdel-Ghaffar was previously high up in the State Security Investigations, a secret police force notorious for torture and disappearances when Hosni Mubarak was president.
Most of those who have been disappeared are vocal supporters of Morsi or other past leaders, the report says, who are then subjected to violent questioning tactics that often result in false confessions.
Fourteen-year-old Mazen Mohamed Abdallah, for example, was hung him from his limbs and shocked with electric probes — among other invasive forms of torture — in September 2015. According to Amnesty International, he eventually confessed to a crime he didn't commit. Abdallah was gone for 34 days, and was was tortured again after he tried to retract his confessions.
The New York Times also wrote about a victim of the Egyptian government's methods, 26-year-old Islam Khalil.
Khalil was in his mid-twenties last year when he encountered the same torture as Abdallah. He and other Egyptians were forced to disclose information about their friends and family the government thought belonged to the Muslim Brotherhood.
Khalil was gone for four months before being dropped off at a gas station covered in filth and clearly starved, according to his brother.
And Egyptians aren't the only ones to experience Egypt's "counter-terrorism" efforts. Giulio Regeni, an Italian exchange student, was found dead with “signs of torture” in Cairo after going missing in early 2016.
Amnesty International said the report was conducted between November 2015 and March 2016 by speaking with 70 lawyers, NGO workers, released detainees and family members of victims who were tortured and disappeared.
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