Document - Croatia: Fear for safety / fear of refoulement: Tal'at Fu'ad Qassim
EXTERNALAI Index: EUR 64/07/95
EXTRA 111/95 Fear for safety / Fear of refoulement25 September 1995
CROATIATal'at Fu`ad Qassim, Egyptian national, refugee
Amnesty International is seriously concerned for the safety of Tal'at Fu`ad Qassim, an Egyptian political refugee who has not been seen since he was arrested in Zagreb shortly after arriving from Amsterdam. The Egyptian Government has reportedly asked the Croatian authorities to send Tal'at Fu`ad Qassim to Egypt where he faces execution, having been sentenced to death in absentia in 1992.
According to reports, Tal'at Fu`ad Qassim, travelling with a Danish travel document and under the name of Ibrahim 'Izzet, boarded a Croatian flight at 12.20pm on 12 September 1995 in Amsterdam. Once in Zagreb he was reportedly staying with two friends in the city, but all three were arrested that night by the Croatian police. The two friends were released on 15 September, but Tal'at Fu`ad Qassim's whereabouts have remained unknown. The Croatian authorities have reportedly stated that he left the country on 18 September after the Magistrates' Court had fined him and ordered him to leave the country.
Tal'at Fu`ad Qassim, a leading member of al-Gama'a al-'Islamiya (Islamic Group), an Egyptian banned Islamist group, was sentenced to death in absentia by an Egyptian military court in Alexandria on 3 December 1992 (see UA 24/93, MDE 12/01/93, 1 February 1993). Seven others were also sentenced to death in the same case, six of them in absentia. Only one of those sentenced to death was present at the trial. He was executed on 13 June 1993. Tal'at Fu`ad Qassim was granted political asylum by the Danish authorities in 1993.
On 20 September 1995 Amnesty International wrote to the President of the Republic of Croatia, Dr Franjo Tudjman, seeking urgent clarification as to the reasons for Tal'at Fu`ad Qassim's arrest and requesting that he would not be forcibly returned to Egypt where he would be executed.
Amnesty International opposes the forcible return of people to countries where they risk imprisonment as prisoners of conscience, torture, "disappearance", or execution. Amnesty International's position is based on the internationally-recognized principle of non-refoulement which, as set out in the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees, prohibits the forcible return of any refugee to a country where his or her life or freedom may be endangered. As a party to this convention, Croatia is obliged to respect the non-refoulement principle. The latter is also a general rule of customary international law and, as such, binding on all states irrespective of whether they have signed the Convention or not. The Intergovernmental Executive Committee of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (EXCOM), of which Croatia is a member, has consistently reiterated the need for states to observe scrupulously the principle of non-refoulement.
RECOMMENDED ACTION: Please send telegrams/faxes/airmail letters in English or your own language:
- seeking information as to the exact whereabouts of Tal'at Fu`ad Qassim;
- urging that he be not forcibly returned to Egypt where he would be executed.
(President of the Republic of Croatia)
Dr Franjo Tudjman
Predsjednik Republike Hrvatske
10000 Zagreb, Croatia
Faxes: +385 1 443 276 / 443 400
Telegrams: President Tudjman, Zagreb, Croatia
Salutation: Dear President
Mr Nikica Valentić
Predsjednik vlade Republike Hrvatske
Trg Stjepana Radića 7
Faxes: +385 1 277 082 / 278 483
Telegrams: Prime Minister Valentić, Zagreb, Croatia
Salutation: Dear Prime Minister
COPIES TO: diplomatic representatives of Croatia accredited to your country.
PLEASE SEND APPEALS IMMEDIATELY. Check with the International Secretariat, or your section office, if sending appeals after 25 October 1995.