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17 rights groups urge Arab foreign ministers to reject Arab Court proposal

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Current proposal for Arab Court restricts court’s jurisdiction, say rights groups

A coalition of 17 human rights organisations requested that Arab foreign ministers amend a proposal for the establishment of the Arab Court of Human Rights during an upcoming Arab League meeting.

A letter sent to Arab foreign ministers on 31 August outlines the organisations’ issues with the current proposal, said the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies (CIHRS) in a Tuesday statement. CIHRS is one of the signatories of the letter.

The member states of the Arab League are expected to convene in Cairo on Wednesday for the Ministerial Council of the Arab League, expected to last until 8 September.  A decision to ratify the proposal for the statute of the Arab Court is on the agenda for the meeting, according to the signatories of the letter.

The organisations stressed in their letter that the Arab Court must adhere to international human rights standards, “including the right to life, the prohibition of the death penalty, the prohibition of cruel, degrading or inhumane treatment, and equality between men and women, and the right to freedom of thought and belief”.

Almost all of the member states of the Arab League retain the death penalty as a form of judicial punishment, according to an Amnesty International report on the topic. The international rights group is among the 17 signatories.

The signatories criticised Article 19 of the draft as it limits the court’s jurisdiction. They pointed out that non-governmental organisations can only take a case to the Arab Court at the discretion of the host state. The groups believe “it is unlikely and not expected that officials in the countries to allow for organisations of the same country seeking to question these countries to enter the Arab Court”.

Among the signatories of the letter are the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights, Human Rights Watch and other rights groups from member states of the Arab League.

 


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