Friday,27 April, 2018
Current issue | Issue 1343, (4 - 10 May 2017)
Friday,27 April, 2018
Issue 1343, (4 - 10 May 2017)

Ahram Weekly

MPs slam ‘politicised reports’ on human rights

MPs argue a new ministry should be created to oversee human rights in Egypt and respond to foreign reports, writes Gamal Essam El-Din

Parliament’s Human Rights Committee launched a scathing attack on reports issued last week on human rights in Egypt by the New York-based Human Rights Watch (HRW) and the US State Department.

The committee, led by its chairman Alaa Abed, condemned a report in which HRW urged the German parliament not to approve an Egyptian-German security agreement on fighting terrorism.

The committee said the HRW report was evidence “this radical Western organisation” acts in the interests of Islamist movements.

“The HRW report criticising Egyptian-German cooperation in the battle against terrorism comes at a crucial time,” said Abed.

“When Egypt is fighting a Sinai-based terrorist group that kills Egyptian soldiers, bombs Egyptian churches and openly claims responsibility for such atrocities the report gives cover for this group to continue its bloody crimes against the Egyptian people.”

The Egyptian-German agreement, said Abed, “helps security apparatuses in both Germany and Egypt exchange information on terrorist organisations with the objective of foiling terrorist attacks in both countries”.

Egyptian Interior Minister Magdi Abdel-Ghaffar signed the agreement with his German counterpart, Thomas de Maizière, in July 2016. It is still awaiting the approval of the German parliament.

The agreement establishes cooperation in a number of fields, including counter-terrorism. It requires the authorities of both countries to work together on investigations, to share information about suspects and undertake joint operations.

HRW said in its report that Egypt’s Interior Ministry has “a decades-long history of arbitrary arrests, forced disappearances, and torture”.

“The German government should be getting cast-iron guarantees that Egypt is calling a halt to its abuses, not rushing to put its agents next to Egyptian forces on the frontline of repression,” said the report.

Abed pointed out that HRW’s “politicised report” was issued after a number of “anti-Egyptian television channels” broadcast a “fake video” showing “Egyptian law enforcement troops in Sinai violating human rights”.

“Countries that spend money on terrorist groups are trying their best to disrupt any plans to stop their support,” he claimed.

“These countries know the Egyptian-German agreement could expose their support of terrorist groups and they have moved quickly to step up their campaign against Egypt by exploiting HRW and using it as a tool in their campaign.”

Abed said a response to the HRW report will be presented to Parliament Speaker Ali Abdel-Aal to be forwarded to German authorities.

According to Abed, it was “the German government, led by Chancellor Angela Merkel, which sought the security agreement with Egypt”.

“The German government took note of Egypt’s massive efforts in fighting terrorist groups and decided it was in Germany’s interest to sign a security agreement with Egypt.”
The Human Rights Committee’s Deputy Chairman Mohamed Al-Ghoul said it is not the first time HRW had issued reports giving “political cover” to terrorist groups.

“Over the past three years HRW and other radical human rights organisations in the West have turned a blind eye to terrorist crimes against Egyptian soldiers in Sinai, referring to terrorist groups as insurgents,” said Al-Ghoul.

“The problem with these radical Western organisations is that they no longer act as human rights forums but as political pressure groups that do not want governments — particularly in the Middle East — to protect their national security.”

“And what is the result of this agenda? Chaos everywhere in the Arab world — in Syria, Libya, Iraq and Sinai.”

Al-Ghoul said “the video broadcast by Muslim Brotherhood channels which operate out of Turkey and receive money from Qatar, was clearly fake.”

“Citizens in Egypt whose sons and daughters are being slaughtered by terrorist groups in Sinai believe the army and police should show no mercy to the terrorists. They quickly realised that the videotape was fake,” said Al-Ghoul.

HRW’s allegations that “there are forced disappearances and torture in Egypt” are entirely unfounded, continued Al-Ghoul.

“Three years of thorough investigation have revealed stories of forced disappearances and torture are based on false claims not facts,” he said.

Human Rights Committee member Ali Abdel-Wanees said negative reports are regularly issued about human rights in Egypt and it is necessary to create an independent ministry to counter them.

“The job of this independent human rights ministry will be to open channels of communication with human rights forums in Europe and America, issue regular detailed reports and present a more realistic picture of human rights in Egypt.”

MPs also attacked a report issued by the US State Department. The report, which is published annually and addressed to the US Congress, repeated HRW’s claims about “forced disappearances and torture”.

MP Ali Badr, the committee’s deputy chairman, said “HWR and the US State Department get their information from the same sources, the Muslim Brotherhood and local human rights groups which receive funding from Western governments.”

Deputy Foreign Minister Wael Nasreddin said Egypt’s Embassy in the United States is officially entrusted with responding to all reports issued on human rights in Egypt. “We are communicating with Congress and the State Department to correct their information about human rights in Egypt,” said Nasreddin.

“Egypt’s record on human rights is regularly reviewed by the UN Human Rights Council. The council, which is neutral and non-politicised, has pointed out that stories of forced disappearances and torture in Egypt are greatly exaggerated.”

Al-Ghoul said Egypt, a member of the UN Security Council and the UN Human Rights Council, has drafted a resolution on “the negative effect of terrorism on human rights”.

“The resolution stresses respect of human rights cannot be separated from the right of countries to safeguard their citizens against terrorist crimes,” said Al-Ghoul.

“Drafted by Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Algeria and Morocco, the resolution faced resistance from the UK, Europe’s capital of radical Islam.”

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid bin Raad Al-Hussein said on Monday that Egypt’s strategy in combating Islamist militants “facilitates radicalisation”. In response, Foreign Ministry spokesman Ahmed Abu Zeid said on Tuesday that such remarks are “irresponsible” and “disgraceful”. He added that the remarks provide justification and excuses for the spread of extremism and terrorism in Egypt overlooking the fact that terrorism is a global phenomenon. Abu Zeid said that such statements give an “inadequate and unbalanced reading of the situation in Egypt”.

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