|Egypt: 11 Years Of Blackout On Kikhia's Abduction?|
On this sad eleventh anniversary of the forced disappearance of Mr. Mansour R. Kikhia, the Libyan League for Human Rights deeply regrets to announce that it has no new development to report in this connection. Egypt, which bears legal and moral responsibility for the abduction that took place on its territory, where Mr. Kikhia may be still detained, continues to simply ignore the case. Every year it transmits to the UN Working Group on Enforced Disappearances the same message that "it has no new information on the case". The Cairo-based Arab Organization for Human Rights which is, at least morally, responsible for the abduction of Mr. Kikhia, insofar as he was discharging his official duties in its service when abducted, continues to operate as usual from Cairo and has maintained its former relationship with the Government of Egypt. Mr Kikhia's abduction seems to have been either forgotten by the Organization or removed from its list of priorities.
Mr. Kikhia was a renowned Human Rights Defender, an outstanding humanist and a strong believer in, and advocate of, non-violent, peaceful and democratic change in Libya. As such, he was the conscience of the nation and truly symbolized the aspirations and hopes of those who were struggling to reform or change the regime through peaceful means. In the words of Mr. Kikhia, “the aim of our struggle is solely to restore the democratic process and respect for human rights to Libya”. He emphasized that “we [the non-violent democratic movement] represent a democratic opposition to a non-democratic regime that we should either reform or change; we are not an opposition acting against the interests of Libya”.
From the standpoint of international human rights law, the forced disappearance of Mr. Kikhia is a grave and heinous crime. The countries involved, namely Egypt, where Mr. Kikhia was abducted, and Libya, his homeland, should accept the reality of the new world order and shed light on what happened on that night of 10 December 1993. Both countries must be aware that international law considers forced disappearance as one of the most serious violations of fundamental human rights, as well as “a grave and abominable offence against the inherent dignity of the human being”. The UN General Assembly has repeatedly affirmed that forced disappearance “constitutes an offence to human dignity, a grave and flagrant violation of human rights and fundamental freedoms and a violation of the rules of international law". Today, international law qualifies forced disappearance as a crime against humanity that must be punished by criminal law. According to the UN Declaration on the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance, adopted by the General Assembly on 18 December 1992 (resolution 47/133), "disappearance is of the nature of a crime against humanity which should be fought by all Governments [including Egypt] through the establishment of effective legislative, administrative, judicial and other measures that are able to prevent and terminate acts of enforced disappearance, in particular to make them continuing offences under criminal law".
Mr. Kikhia is not the only victim of his forced disappearance. His family is also a victim since, like other relatives and friends, it has been subjected to an anguished uncertainty. In fact, the disappearance of Mr. Kikhia is still affecting an entire circle of family members, relatives and friends who, for the last 11 years, have been waiting in vain for news from Egypt concerning his fate. It is noteworthy that Mr. Kikhia’s forced disappearance was associated not only with illegal forms of procedure and exercise of authority by the Governments of Egypt and Libya but also with clandestine operations involving various mafia-like methods of terror. The sense of insecurity which this abduction generated extended far beyond family members, relatives and friends of Mr. Kikhia to engulf the entire community to which Mr. Kikhia belonged, as well as Libyan society as a whole.
This is only a brief account of what happened in Cairo 11 years ago, with its consequences and implications. Today, we remain in uncertainty and no one seems to have any idea or indication as to what precisely happened to Mr. Kikhia or where he might be found. Egypt, which is holding all the cards, is continuing, as already mentioned, to impose a total blackout on this crime without giving any explanation other than its statement to the Working Group on Enforced Disappearances of the UN Commission on Human Rights in 1996 to the effect that Mr. Kikhia went to Cairo “to attend a meeting organized by a non-governmental organization [the Arab Organization for Human Rights] that did not request any special protection for Mr. Kikhia”. Should we conclude from this that Egypt affords protection only to those visitors who request special protection and that those who do not request it are candidates for forced disappearance? In the words of Mrs. Kikhia’s former lawyer, the late Adel Amin,” Everything seems to indicate that the Egyptian security authorities do not wish the truth to be revealed concerning the disappearance of Mansour Kikhia”.
The Libyan League for Human Rights calls on the Government of Egypt to put an end to the blackout on the crime and to authorize an immediate independent inquiry on the case. We also appeal to the UN Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearance to undertake its own investigation with the view of submitting to the Commission on Human Rights a detailed report that should include. Inter alia, practical recommendations to end the ordeal of Mr. Kikhia and the suffering and distress of his family and friends.
10 December 2004