CAIRO: The government has to set fair minimum wages, expand social insurance funds and include minorities in decision-making, economic and cultural rights in the country, a legal report recommended.
Hisham Mubarak Law Center launched in a press conference Wednesday its first report on social, economic and cultural rights in 2009.
Prepared by the center’s Egyptian Monitoring Program for Social, Economic and Cultural Rights, the report analyzed the state’s policies in securing the rights of employment, social insurance, living standards, health, housing and environment.
The report also shed light on citizens’ rights in making use of natural resources and maintaining cultural and women’s rights.
“The report is based on 467 cases the center worked on in 2009 through its two branches in Cairo and Aswan,” the center’s executive director Ahmed Ragheb told Daily News Egypt.
“These cases represent 64.1 percent of the total number [of cases] the center tackled in the same year,” Ragheb, also a lawyer, added.
The 126-page report was prepared over a period of four months by volunteers in addition to lawyers and researchers working for the center.
“It is not a monitoring report of human rights violations. Rather, it is an analysis of the adopted policies with regards to social, economic and cultural rights,” Ragheb explained.
“The report highlighted the stance of the different parties: mainly the state, represented by executive and legislative bodies, civil society and [the citizens themselves],” he added.
It recommended a number of procedures that can be adopted by the government to enhance the socio-economic and cultural situation in Egypt.
According to the report, the state has to settle the status of temporary laborers, rule out contradictory labor laws that violate the rights of some segments of workers and play a more efficient role in human resource development, especially for people with disabilities.
Moreover, the report recommended the expansion of social insurance to cover all Egyptian citizens.
It further called on the government to investigate attempts to get hold of social insurance funds and put in place a stronger supervisory system over those funds.
Pressure should be exerted on the government to set fair minimum wages after discussing the issue with workers, their representatives, human rights groups and independent economists, the report said.
Such discussions, the report added, have to be conducted periodically.
It further called for maintaining the campaign against the privatization of the General Authority for Health Insurance and urged the government to upgrade public hospitals.
Human rights advocates, the report noted, should not limit their activities to political issues and should work on developing strategies for defending natural resources.
Finally, the report demanded the acknowledgment of the rights of minority groups based on article 26 of the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights as well as allowing them to be part of the decision-making process.