A joint letter by nearly a dozen international human rights groups has called on United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) to address the “deteriorating human rights situation” in Egypt.
The letter, addressed to the 26th UNHRC session scheduled to take place 10 to 27 June in Geneva, urged the UNHRC to follow up on a 7 March statement signed by 27 UNHRC member states expressing “concern about the restrictions on the rights to peaceful assembly, expression and association, and about the disproportionate use of lethal force by security forces against demonstrators which resulted in large numbers of deaths and injuries”.
“Despite commendable acknowledgment of a number of human rights obligations in Egypt’s new constitution, recent developments have shown that state institutions continue to blatantly violate many of Egypt’s international human rights obligations,” read the letter.
“States at the Human Rights Council should remind these institutions of their international and national obligations and demand that human rights protection and promotion are priorities on the agenda of the new president and government.”
The signatories, who include international rights groups Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, list a series of grievances they say illustrate the worsening rights abuses in Egypt. The list includes the mass death sentences issued in Minya, sentencing over 700 defendants to death; the banning of the revolutionary 6 April movement; the exclusion of National Democratic Party members from running for parliament; the assembly law passed last November which curbs the right to protest; the arrest and detention of thousands of protesters since Mohamed Morsi’s 3 July ouster; the imprisonment of activists Mahienour El-Massry, Ahmed Douma, Ahmed Maher and Mohamed Adel; the arrest and detention of four journalists from Qatari-based broadcaster Al Jazeera; the raid on the Alexandria office of the Egyptian Centre for Economic and Social Rights; and the ubiquitous problem of sexual harassment of women in Egypt.
The letter asks the UNHRC to “urge” Egyptian authorities to amend the law to put it in line with international standards, including releasing all prisoners of conscious, ending the prosecution of protesters and developing a national plan to protect women’s rights.
First convening in June 2006, the UNHRC meets regularly to review the human rights situation in all UN member states. Next month’s session will include panel discussions on the safety of journalists, women’s rights, child marriage and the rights of persons with disabilities.
Abeer Saady, Vice President of the Egyptian Journalists Syndicate, will be a featured panellist during the discussion of the safety of journalists.