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Human Rights First Issues Blueprint for Promotion of Human Rights in Egypt
Human Rights First Issues Blueprint for Promotion of Human Rights in Egypt
President Obama?s Approaching Middle East Visit, Speech Is Opportunity to Address Human Rights in Egypt
Just days before President Barack Obama’s first official visit to Egypt and his much-anticipated June 4 speech, Human Rights First (HRF) is urging the administration to chart a new course in U.S. efforts to promote human rights in Egypt.
Sunday, July 12,2009 01:49
Humanrightsfirst.org

Just days before President Barack Obama’s first official visit to Egypt and his much-anticipated June 4 speech, Human Rights First (HRF) is urging the administration to chart a new course in U.S. efforts to promote human rights in Egypt. 

In How to Promote Human Rights in Egypt, a new HRF Blueprint issued today, the organization called on the Obama Administration to develop and implement a comprehensive strategy to improve basic rights and freedoms for all Egyptians. The Blueprint recommends a new strategy for human rights promotion, one that focuses on making the Egyptian government a partner, and builds on commitments and pledges made by the Egyptian government to improve human rights conditions. This new approach should also situate U.S. human rights promotion efforts firmly within the multilateral framework by which Egypt is bound, rather than relying primarily on unilateral pressure that Egypt has been able to evade in the past.

“The Bush Administration identified the right problem in seeking to break from the failed and longstanding policies of ‘excusing and accommodating the lack of freedom in the Middle East,’ but the task of creating a new policy remains incomplete,” said Neil Hicks, International Policy Advisor at HRF. “The Obama Administration must now finish the job. What President Obama says and does while he is in Egypt will be a key indicator of the importance the new administration will accord to human rights promotion globally.”

Today’s Blueprint outlined several key recommendations that could serve as the impetus for human rights reforms in Egypt, including:

  • The Obama Administration should publicly call on the Egyptian government to hold a transparent and contested presidential election in 2011, a time that may well mark the end of President Mubarak’s 30 year term in office, as a first step towards more competitive, inclusive elections.
  • President Obama should meet publicly with representatives of independent civil society organizations while he is in Egypt and voice his support for human rights defenders who face harassment, restrictions, baseless prosecutions and defamation in the officially controlled media.
  • In an effort to strengthen democracy and improve human rights, the Obama Administration should work with the Egyptian government to step up programs designed to strengthen institutional checks and balances within Egypt that protect against tyranny. These include efforts to ensure the rule of law, the independence of the judiciary, freedom of the press, freedom of religion and belief, an autonomous civil society, protection of vulnerable minority groups and gender equality.
  • The U.S. should urge repeal of Egypt’s near permanent state of emergency and oppose efforts by the Egyptian government to retain powers to restrict basic rights, such as freedom of expression and assembly.

“U.S. policy must respond to the demands of people in Egypt and throughout the region for more democracy and greater respect for human rights. President Obama’s speech in Cairo is a perfect opportunity for this administration to make clear that it stands with those throughout the region who are working for a better future grounded in respect for the rule of law and basic rights and freedoms,” Hicks concluded.

To view a PDF version of How to Promote Human Rights in Egypt, visit
http://www.humanrightsfirst.org/pdf/how-to-promote-human-rights-in-egypt-090528.pdf .


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