In a meeting with Dr. Mufid Shehab

April 19th, 2010 by Editor

Abu Seada proposes a mechanism for coordinating between the government and civil society organizations to put recommendations of Geneva in action

 At the end of meeting held by Dr. Mufid Shehab, Minister of State for Legal and Parliamentary Affairs on Thursday 15/4/2010 with representatives of the Ministerial Committee concerned with  the periodic review mechanism, some members of the National Council for Human Rights and some representatives of civil society organizations in Cairo and other governorates, Mr. Hafez Abu Seada, chairman of EOHR,  has proposed to establish a continued  and regular mechanism for coordinating  between the government represented by the Ministerial Committee concerned with the  mechanism of  the universal periodic review on the status of human rights in Egypt and the National Council for Human Rights and civil society organizations. This mechanism aims at following up the government’s implementation of the recommendations issued by UN human rights council.

The meeting dealt with several issues including the law of NGOs and human rights situation in Egypt, torture, and the recommendations of UN Human Rights Council. Participants agreed to hold a regular meeting every two months to permanently assess the situation of human rights.

Dr. Mufid Shehab, Minister of State for Legal and Parliamentary Affairs , clarified that this meeting was held due to several reasons: first, the growing interest in human rights issues at all levels local, regional and international, second: the Government’s desire to engage in dialogue and coordination between the national council and civil society organizations and third: to implement the promise made by the Government (in preparing the report of Egypt submitted to UN human rights council)to create a continued contact between the government and civil society organizations.

Shehab added that this meeting will be followed by another meeting in May, in order to determine the priorities of the recommendations of Geneva, stressing that the mechanism of universal periodic review is a positive mechanism in the light of the interaction of the Egyptian government with them, and accept about 80% of the recommendations .

As for the law of NGOs,  Shehab clarified that the government  did not submit any bill to amend the current law No. 84 of 2002, through personal assurances from Dr. Ali Meselhi, Minister of Social Solidarity, confirming that the proposed bill is considered just efforts fulfilled by the General Federation for NGOs. He stressed that any proposal for the law of NGOs would work primarily for  the interests of NGOs and not vice versa, by providing more freedom in the establishment, and reduce administrative intervention by the authorities in the work of NGOs.

For his part, Mr. Hafez Abu Seada, chairman of EOHR clarified that the universal periodic review mechanism is a significant development in the light of the Government’s  preparation for the report on the status of human rights and the  participation in the activities of Geneva’s session, pointing out that  this mechanism has created a situation of dialogue in the Egyptian society  which should be reliable in the future.

Abu Seada called the government  for actively interact  with the recommendations of UN human rights council and to set a timetable and a mechanism to implement them and to accept the postponed recommendations and reconsidering the imposed recommendations especially for those related to the main files such as (emergency, torture, receive special rapporteurs).

Abu Seada added that the total recommendations made by Human Rights Council reached 165 recommendations as the government agreed to accept 119 recommendations as follows:
21 recommendations on women and children, 19 recommendations on economic and social rights, 11 recommendations on spreading and teaching the culture of human rights, 7 recommendations on the revision of the legislative structure to cope with the international covenants on human rights and the withdraw of Egypt’s reservations to other international conventions, and other recommendations on freedom of religion and belief ,freedom of opinion and expression, trafficking in persons , death penalty and rights of persons with disabilities , refugees, torture , terrorism ,emergency and NGOs.

Abu Seada confirmed on the importance of amending some articles in criminal procedure code and penal code which handled torture issue, the amendment of these articles was mentioned in the bill proposed by EOHR in 2003 to the Egyptian parliament, this bill called upon amending torture crime in the Egyptian law according to the international covenants, so as the definition of the torture crime shall be included in the law according to it’s definition in the UN Convention Against Torture, which was ratified by Egypt in 1986, also the bill called upon the exclusive amendment of articles No. 126, 129, 280 of the penal code and articles No. 63, 232 of the criminal procedure code, in order to face the impunity, to tough the penalty upon the criminals and to prohibit the usage of the compassion in these cases. Mr. Hafez also demanded that the government shall respond to Geneva  recommendations which stated that the government shall  abide to the Optional Protocol of UN Convention Against Torture, also  the special rapporteur on torture shall be invited to visit Egypt without postponement and facilitating his visit to Egypt, also Mr.  Hafez demanded the non-renewal of the Emergency Law.

Abu Seada mentioned also that there is a severe attack against all NGOs in Egypt specially The Egyptian Organization For Human Rights, as the Egyptian government didn’t agree upon any bill proposed by EOHR since 2007 till now. EOHR has formed a coalition on freeing civil work in Egypt formed of 100 NGOs from 17 governorates, targeting at mobilizing the efforts of these NGOs against the governmental proposed bill of civil society which aims at binding the civil society not freeing it, as it impose restrictions on NGOs’ work, restructuring, management, financing and dissolution except with an administrative decision, as well as ignoring recommendations on NGOs law which was issued by the UN International Council Of Human Rights during the Human Rights universal periodic review of Egypt’s file.

Concerning monitoring elections, Abu Seada confirmed on the necessity of monitoring of NGOs to the elections, inside and outside the poll stations, and that right shall be guaranteed by the law, adding that EOHR has recently prepared a bill for the general elections and referendum, as a substitute for exercising political rights law no.37 of 1956 and it’s amendments  with law No.173 of 2005, to be in accordance with the international covenants concerned with  human rights specially managing public affaires, the bill also suggested the public counting of the votes inside the poll stations  and giving a copy of  the counting  list to the candidates and their deputies .

The participants pointed out to the bad situation of the Human Rights in Egypt in civil, political, economical and societal levels, also they emphasize on the bad condition of the Egyptian prisons, the increase in the number of the arrested people, the increase in the rate of torture inside prisons and police stations, in addition to the bad situation of the Egyptian abroad and the bad connection between the Egyptian  embassy and Egyptians abroad.

 The participants said that they disagree on the proposed bill as a substitute for the recent law No. 84 of 2002, expressing their fears from the sudden issuing of the new law without taking the NGOs’ opinions in consideration, saying that the new bill is against the good of the civil society and that it is imposing a lot of restrictions upon NGOs in Egypt.

Asking the government to announce plainly that there is no proposed bill in this regard.

Dr. Shehab commented on the remarks of the participants saying that he refused any individual actions concerning torture inside police stations, at the same time he refused to consider it as a phenomenon.

Dr. Shehab said also that he can’t describe the human rights situation in Egypt as a bad situation in general, asserting that there are a positive signs we can recognize,  such as the abolition of military orders and the specification of 64 seats for women in parliament.

Dr. Shehab added that the Egyptian foreign ministry is doing it’s best to serve the Egyptians abroad and to protect them against any violations and to guarantee their moral and financial rights, expressing that there are some Egyptians who are harming the reputation of Egypt.

Dr. Shehab considered  the judicial supervision on elections is not the main guarantee for the integrity of the elections, saying that there are other guarantees , and that Egypt is considered the only country authorizing the complete judicial supervision, and that we are still executing this system but it isn’t executed as it was in the past, due to the latest legal amendments.


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