A study of the phenomenon of enforced disappearance in East Africa.. A remarkable escalation

Okeil: The ongoing abusive practices against the people of the Tigray region have gone beyond all limits and become extrajudicially practiced

Hegazy: Eritrea uses enforced disappearance as a weapon of war to undermine fundamental rights and freedoms

On the International Day of Victims of Enforced Disappearances, and amidst all ongoing conflicts and wars erupting in Africa, particularly East Africa, Maat for Peace, Development and Human Rights has recently published a new study entitled “Enforced Disappearance in East Africa… A Significant Escalation”, in which Maat denounced the alarming increase in the number of enforced disappearances in Somalia, Eritrea and Ethiopia, whether those attributed to terrorist groups, or repressive governments.

Maat recommended the countries of East Africa to allow the Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances to conduct field visits to those countries, and thus contribute to curbing this inhuman phenomenon.

Commenting on this phenomenon, Ayman Okeil, president of Maat for Peace, Development and Human Rights, stressed that the Ethiopian government continues to practice systematic violence against its citizens of the Tigray ethnicity, explaining that, since the outbreak of the civil war in June 2020, the country was hit by a wave of enforced disappearances that targeted all persons belonging to that ethnicity over no specific charges. The human rights expert has recommended the governments of East Africa in general and Ethiopia in particular to immediately stop civil wars; the chief reason behind the spread of enforced disappearance, to monitor the internal situation, and return all conflicting parties to the negotiating table as a first step towards a peaceful solution.

On a similar context, Asmaa Hegazy, the researcher at the African Affairs and Sustainable Development Unit at Maat, added that in light of the ongoing conflicts, the critical human rights conditions in Eritrea, the increased insecurity, and the government crackdown, the number of victims of enforced disappearance have markedly increased, causing family disintegration and high rates of child labor. The researcher recommended the government of Eritrea to urgently ratify the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance and work to integrate all its provisions into the legal and legislative frameworks.

Notably, Africa is among the issues of concern to Maat for Peace, Development and Human rights, being a member of the General Assembly for the Economic, Social & Cultural Council (ECOSOCC) of the Africa Union (AU). Moreover, Maat serves as an Observer in The African Commission on Human and People’s Rights (ACHPR) and as a Northern African Coordinator in the major Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) in Africa of the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UN DESA).

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