Egypt's rights groups ask for support of UN High Commissioner for Human Rights

Thursday 10-03-2016 03:03 PM

Protesters chant in solidarity with detainees on March 6, 2016 (ASWAT MASRIYA/ ASMAA GAMAL)

Photographer Asmaa Gamal

CAIRO, Mar. 10 (Aswat Masriya) - Egyptian rights groups sent a letter to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad detailing the "ongoing deterioration" of human rights in Egypt shortly before his scheduled address to the UN Human Rights Council (HRC) in Geneva on Thursday.

In the letter, the organisations, which include the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies, the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights, and 15 other local human rights groups, reviewed the developments of human rights cases in Egypt, offered a list of recommendations and asked for the High Commissioner’s support in the 31st session of the HRC.

The cases include "extrajudicial killing and police brutality; imprisonment, torture, and ill treatment; freedom of association and assembly; the suppression of media and artistic freedoms and draconian measures against cultural and academic institutions; economic and social justice; women’s rights; and religious freedoms."

The organisations set forth a list of recommendations regarding a statutory framework that would allow civil society organisations to operate freely. They also asked that the protest law be amended by parliament in order to agree with the Egyptian constitution.

They further proposed amendments to the definition of torture in Article 126 of the Egyptian Penal Code, and to Article 102 of the Police Authority Law.

The groups demanded that both laws be aligned with the UN Convention against Torture and the UN Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms by Law Enforcement Officials consecutively.

The groups also called for the abolition of Article 98 on the defamation of religion in Egypt's Penal Code.  

In November 2014, Egypt accepted a set of international recommendations that pertained to the same issues during the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of its rights record.

Despite this, the groups maintained that, "Human rights violations committed by the current Egyptian authorities have severely intensified," since the UPR recommendations.

Over 300 recommendations were submitted during Egypt's UPR session in Geneva last November by around 122 states, which have reviewed the country's human rights record.

"Egypt accepted 243 recommendations, which means over 81 percent of recommendations were accepted," Ambassador Amr Ramadan, Egypt's Permanent Representative to the United Nations Office at Geneva Ambassador, said during the session.

"Egypt’s war on terror has been used as a cover for violations, and an undeclared state of emergency has been in force with the support of a deeply politicized judiciary. The Egyptian government’s use of anti-terror discourse has only succeeded in closing down public spaces and peaceful dissent," the groups wrote in their letter.

Egypt's first UPR was held in 2010, shortly before former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak was toppled, when it was given 165 recommendations for its human rights violations.

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