Egypt government, Brotherhood to exchange accusations in Geneva

Joel Gulhane
4 Min Read

The Egyptian government and the Muslim Brotherhood will present assessments of Egypt’s human rights record over the last four years at the United Nations Universal Periodic Review (UN UPR) in Geneva on Wednesday.

Egypt’s foreign ministry confirmed Sunday that the government’s submission to the UN UPR, containing “unprecedented material confirming Egypt’s full commitment to international conventions”, has been delivered. The report also contains “images that illustrate acts of violence and terrorism carried out by elements of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt”.

Referring to the 2010 review, the foreign ministry said that while many of the recommendations made then have been addressed, “the reality in the field of human rights transcend these recommendations”. Egypt is now dealing with issues of “rights and freedoms” that are “above the recommendations made four years ago”.

The Muslim Brotherhood and its political wing, the Freedom and Justice Party (FJP), both dissolved and banned by the Egyptian authorities, have also submitted a report to the UNHRC. Former president Mohamed Morsi, who hails from the Islamist organisation, was ousted in July 2013, which was followed by a security crackdown on his supporters.

The Brotherhood’s legal team, Irvine Thanvi Natas solicitors, said: “The UN UPR has a historic opportunity to hold the Egyptian military regime to account for the crimes committed since the coup”.

The group said the Egyptian government’s submission to the UN UPR “is silent on this repressive and violent conduct”.

The counter report is said to “expose the atrocious reality of the military dictatorship ruling Egypt”, which includes “a detailed review of the human rights record of Egypt under president Morsi and appraises the record of the military regime”.

Dr H.A. Hellyer, associate fellow in International Security Studies at the Royal United Services Institute in London and the Centre for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution in Washington DC, believes the two parties are heading to Geneva to score “political points”. He added that this “will mean they leave out any human rights issues that show them in a bad light, which are many”.

Hellyer pointed out that human rights organisations will also be represented at the review in Geneva, who he says “have been consistent since 2010 until now”. He added: “Those are the ones that will establish the litmus test for accuracy”.

Last week 19 independent rights organisations announced that their report had been submitted to the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in March. The coalition of groups noted “a dramatic deterioration in the status of human rights in Egypt over the past four years”. This period covers the presidencies of Hosni Mubarak, Mohamed Morsi and Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi, as well as the interim periods under the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces and interim President Adly Mansour.

The 19 groups stressed that “successive governments, despite their political differences, have failed to curb violations or work towards the protection of rights through security sector, economic, social, or judicial reform”.

The groups also point out in their report that since 2010 the different governments of Egypt have impeded upon various rights including freedom of assembly, freedom of association and freedom of expression”.

The review is headed by Saudi Arabia, Montenegro, and the Ivory Coast. Questions have been submitted in advance by Belgium, Lichtenstein, and the Netherlands to be answered by Egypt’s representative to the UN in Geneva during the review. The questions relate to freedom of association, government surveillance, the issuance of death sentences, and the use of “unnecessary lethal force against protesters”.


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Joel Gulhane is a journalist with an interest in Egyptian and regional politics. Follow him on Twitter @jgulhane
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