A national committee led by transitional justice and house of representatives affairs minister Ibrahim El-Heneidy will meet Thursday to make a final review of a report about the situation of human rights in Egypt over the last four years. The report will be reviewed by the Geneva-based UN Human Rights Council next week.
El-Heneidy told parliamentary reporters that he and members of the committee will leave for Geneva next Sunday to attend a special session on the human rights situation in Egypt and respond to questions and remarks. The session will be attended by representatives from 125 countries.
The committee is composed of Hisham Badr, deputy foreign minister for human rights, Abu Bakr El-Gendy, deputy interior minister for human rights, Mervat Talalawy, secretary-general of the national council for women, Maha Abdel-Latif, deputy foreign minister for foreign NGOs and Medhat Bassiouny, deputy justice minister for human rights. It also includes Mohamed Khallaf, deputy prosecutor-general for international cooperation affairs, and Ashraf Ashmawy, El-Heneidy’s advisor for human rights.
Ashmawy told parliamentary correspondents that the review of the human rights situation in Egypt in Geneva next week will be the second in four years. The first review was made in February, 2010. “At that time, the UN Human Rights Council raised 165 recommendations about human rights in Egypt, 119 of which were accepted by the government,” said Ashmawy.
According to Ashmawy, the report prepared by the committee tackles controversial issues such as the protest law, sexual harassment, violations of human rights in Sinai Peninsula and prison custody.
Nasser Amin, a member of the board of the National Council for Human Rights, said the committee – led by El-Heneidy – held a meeting with representatives of civil society organisations on Tuesday to listen to their remarks about human rights in Egypt.
“In this meeting, we expressed our concern about the human rights situation in Egypt and asked for recommendations,” said Amin. He added that “these mainly focused on the necessity of amending the protest law, the NGO law, reviewing prison custody periods, and the necessity for the government to implement the new constitution’s articles on human rights.”
Amin said civil society organisations complained that the new government-drafted NGO law is highly restrictive and violates the new constitution and that the government should amend the protest law as recommended by the National Council for Human Rights. “The organisations asked for a dialogue with the government, with the objective of reaching a balanced law giving a lot of freedoms for NGOs in the coming period,” said Amin.
Amin indicated that organisations raised concern about the government’s intent to evacuate the citizens of the Sinai border city of Rafah. “They stressed that this evacuation should come only after a written prior approval from citizens,” said Amin.
Amin cited minister El-Heneidy as emphasising that citizens of Rafah have already approved the evacuation project and that they will leave Rafah for good rather than temporarily.