At the end of a common meeting between the Egyptian Organization for Human Rights (EOHR) and the human rights committee in the Parliament which was held on Sunday 8/2/2009,EOHR has submitted NGOs bill as an alternative to law No. 84 of 2002 and another bill to amend some articles related to torture included in the Penal Code and the law of criminal procedures and a number of demands concerning the political and legal reform before the committee
Mr. Hafez Abu Seada, Secretary General of EOHR, clarified that Egypt needs to review many of the files concerned with human rights, especially since it joined the International Council for Human Rights .These files are as follows :
First : The abolishment of emergency law and returning to Constitutional legality, as well as the abolishment of all exceptional laws.
Second: The abolishment of submitting civilians to the military courts and the amendment of the Martial law No. 25 of 1966, for the Military Courts to be limited to soldiers accused of committing military crimes and the crimes committed inside barracks, and the abolishment of Emergency state security courts as they represent a grave violation against the right to a fair trial.
Third : Abolishing all sanctions for freedoms in the publishing cases to protect journalists and the press freedom in accordance with the constitution and the international covenants which guarantee the right to freedom of opinion and expression and satisfying with fine sanction with limiting the maximum of those it. Also those who suffer from publishing , have the right to defense in the same newspaper and to bring civil suit to get the appropriate compensation before a civil court if there is an evidence that the journalist violates the Charter of the press.
Fourth : Working on bolstering the freedom of belief .
Fifth :Abolishing all laws which impede rights and freedoms such as the law of political parties, the law of trade and professional unions and the law of NGOs .
Sixth : Improving the situation of Egyptian workers abroad, especially in the Gulf countries and working on canceling the sponsor system(Al Kafil).
Abu Seada added that law 84-2002 related to NGOs and civil society organizations is considered an impediment to the civil work, as it impedes the development of civil society. In the view of the impeded legal environment , EOHR formed the Egyptian alliance for the freedom of NGOs in March 2008 . This alliance includes a group of human rights activists and representatives of NGOs in Cairo and other governorates .
The secretary general confirmed that the main goal of the alliance is to draft a new bill to replace Law No. 84 of 2002 . This bill helps to release the freedom of NGOs through removing the legal, financial and administrative obstacles imposed on their work. Also, the bill will ease the procedures of registration through Software Planet notification rather than the need to obtain a prior permission. Also the bill ensures the role of NGOs in decision-making, and will establish an equal relationship between them and the state. This will foster the building of a strong civil society capable of contributing to the promotion of democratic values and human rights.
As for torture , Abu Seada clarified the legislative definition failure for torture crime and the lack of compatibility with the provision of article( 2) of the International Convention Against Torture which was ratified by Egypt the matter which led to the absence of legal accountability for perpetrators who feel that they are free from punishment . The sanctions are not commensurate with the magnitude of the committed offense not only in the right of victims but against humanity as well . In addition, there is a necessary to take a legal and practical measures to face torture phenomenon and other ill- treatments to ensure the full realization of all provisions of the International Convention against Torture and other cruel and inhuman treatments.
EOHR has submitted a bill to People’s Assembly to amend some articles related to torture in the law of Penal Code and criminal procedures .The bill focused on the following aspects:
– The crime of torture in the Egyptian law and its amendment according to the international covenants to include the definition of the crime of torture, in accordance with what stipulated in the Convention against Torture, which was ratified by Egypt in 1986 in order to combat the phenomenon of impunity.
– Thickening the punishment against perpetrators of crimes and the inadmissibility to use clemency and the extenuating circumstances of the sanction.
– Ensuring the right of victims to revive the criminal lawsuit against perpetrators of the crime of torture , the bill includes exclusively the amendment of articles No. 126,129,280 of the Penal Code and articles 63and 232 of the law of criminal procedures.
On his part, Dr. Edward Al Zahaby, chairman of the committee, welcomed EOHR’s proposals to improve the situations of human rights and strengthening the democratic process, he confirmed that the committee will study these proposals.
The meeting includes Mr. Ahmed Abdul Hafiz,Vice-President of EOHR , Tarek Zaghloul , administrative director from EOHR and the chairman and the members of the committee.