Egypt’s defence of its human rights record at the Universal Periodical Review (UPR) in Geneve “lay in tatters”, human rights organisation Amnesty International said on Thursday.
The Amnesty statement added that “despite damning evidence of human rights violations”, the Egyptian delegation continuously rejected criticism from other UN member states.
“As expected, we saw a lot of posturing today from Egypt. The picture of the country the delegation provided was unrecognizable,” said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa Programme at Amnesty Interantional.
“At best, they are completely disconnected from the scale of the human rights crisis engulfing the crisis. It was a pathetic attempt at a cover up.”
The Egyptian delegation was headed by representatives of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Social Solidarity, the Ministry of Interior and the Public Prosecution.
UN member states gave the Egyptian delegation a number of recommendations, including: stop torture and other ill-treatment in places of detention; end and investigate the use of excessive force against protesters; uphold the right to fair trial and due process; uphold freedom of expression and release detained journalists; review the repressive NGO law; revise or repeal the Protest Law; end the use of the death penalty and eliminate discrimination against women; and investigate attacks against women protesters.
The Egyptian delegation responded to these recommendations by saying that the law criminalises torture and that there have “only been a few cases” which were carried out by a small number of individuals. They stated that the Egyptian judiciary is “independent” and that all trails “meet international standards”.
The delegation also stated that law restricts excessive use of force by security forces, guarantees freedom of expression, guarantees freedom of association, and that the Protest Law was made to “regulate peaceful association”.
Egypt criticised the international community “for their lack of engagement under Mohamed Morsi’s administration” and stated that the government “is making efforts”.
Amnesty International on the other hand, stated that torture and other ill-treatment are rife in police stations and National Security offices. Torture of prisoners include “horrific treatment at the hands of the security forces, including beatings, electric shocks and being handcuffed and suspended on open doors in stress positions”.
According to the human rights watchdog, since 3 July 2013, security forces killed more than 1,400 people in protests and political violence. It added that the mass killings at Rabaa al-Adawiya on 14 August 2013 “have not yet been independently and impartially investigated”.
The Egyptian judiciary was also called out on a pattern of selective justice and detaining individuals solely for practicing their right to freedom of expression. NGOs are subject to “crushing restrictions” and Amnesty International’s research has shown that authorities do not tolerate the right of peaceful assembly, the organisation said in its statement.
Independent Egyptian rights organisations fear that Egyptian authorities many undertake a “sweeping crackdown” against them when the government deadline for NGOs to register under what Amnesty International calls the “Mubarak-era repressive” Law on Associations, expires.
These rights organisations had announced they would withdraw from the UPR process altogether out of fear of this crackdown.