The Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies (CIHRS) hosted the United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs Jeffery Feltman in its Cairo office Saturday.
The meeting addressed Egypt’s counter-terrorism strategies, as well as the connection between the continuous failures to combat terrorism along with human rights violations, according to a Sunday CIHRS statement.
The meeting was attended by CIHRS and five other Human rights organisations in Egypt including: the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR); the Egyptian Center for Economic and Social Rights (ECESR); Nazra for Feminist Studies; the Andalus Institute for Tolerance and Anti-violence Studies; and the Egyptian Commission for Rights and Freedoms.
Egypt has set out to “ultimately eliminate terrorism” following several attacks targeting security personnel across the country, especially in the Sinai Peninsula.
A draft law, known as the “terrorist entities” law, was presented to the presidency for consideration after gaining the cabinet’s approval in November. The law would impose the terrorist label on any group “practicing or intending to advocate by any means to disturb public order or endanger the safety of the community and its interests, or risk its security, or harm national unity”.
CIHRS criticised the law in a statement released on 3 December, as “the government is using the war on terror to pass laws that attack rights and freedoms”. The statement noted that CIHRS is “wary of government claims that the law will support the state’s counterterrorism efforts”.
It also said the group “stresses that if the state wishes to pass a law on terrorist entities it must do so without sacrificing the constitution and while ensuring that the law meets international standards”.
Egyptian rights groups have reiterated the calls to engage with the government in a dialogue to discuss the development of civil society and the independence of civic associations. The Ministry of Social Solidarity set 10 November as a deadline for NGOs operating in Egypt to register under the Mubarak-era Law 84/2002.
The UN Universal Periodic Review held in Geneva in November gave Egypt 300 recommendations, at least 20 of which dealt with the status of civil society organisations. It also called for amending the law to abide by “international norms” and the Egyptian constitution.
Citing the “ongoing threats on human rights organisations”, CIHRS has decided to move its regional and international programmes out of Egypt.