Egypt: UN Rights Council Issues Recommendations, Regime Responds
As a result of Egypt’s Universal Periodical Review (UPR) at the UN, the Human Rights Council released a total of 165 recommendations intended to remedy what the council believes is an environment of deteriorating human rights treatment. In what some view as a surprise, however, the Egyptian government publicly accepted 119 of the proposals while rejecting only 14. Among these 119 recommendations, which the regime is now bound to implement, are provisions that alter some of the core features of the Egyptian judicial system:
- Ensuring that administrative detainees are released or promptly brought to justice.
- Amending the definition of torture in the Penal Code and mandating the investigation and prosecution of all cases of torture.
- Lifting the state of emergency and ensuring that any new counter-terrorism law complies with international human rights law.
- Ensuring that the use of the death penalty meets the standards of international law.
- Protecting the rights of human rights defenders and amending the NGO law to facilitate the registration and functioning of independent civil society.
- Promoting and protecting freedom of religion and belief and adequately responding to sectarian violence, especially against Copts.
- Ensuring freedom of expression, including for bloggers and other Internet users.
- Enhancing human rights education and training.
The Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights “welcomed the fact that the government decided to accept the majority of the recommendations,” but refused to let this good news hide the fact that the regime continues to dismiss accusations of widespread abuse, accusing the government of “lying when it describes as ‘factually incorrect’ well-documented abuses such as the use of Emergency Law powers against bloggers and political activists or the impunity granted for perpetrators of sectarian violence.” Hossam Bahgat, executive director of EIPR, urged the government to go even further and “support all of the review’s recommendations and establish a participatory and transparent implementation plan that is measurable and time-bound.”
In related news, one of Egypt’s most prominent bloggers, Wael Abbas, was acquitted by a court in Cairo, sparing him from what could have been up to six months in prison. The Arabic Network for Human Rights Information had previously labeled the case against Abbas a fabrication, and accused the government of a blatant “manipulation of law.”