Saturday,22 September, 2018
Current issue | Issue 1385, (15 - 21 March 2018)
Saturday,22 September, 2018
Issue 1385, (15 - 21 March 2018)

Ahram Weekly

‘Baseless allegations’

The Foreign Ministry denounces a report on human rights in Egypt compiled by the UN High Commission, reports Ahmed Morsy

 

The Foreign Ministry issued a statement on 7 March refuting recent critical comments on the political climate in Egypt made by UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Raad Al-Hussein. Al-Hussein’s criticisms, said the Foreign Ministry, were “baseless”.

In a report to the Geneva-based United Nations Human Rights Council Al-Hussein expressed concern about the “pervasive climate of intimidation” in Egypt ahead of this month’s presidential elections.

“Potential candidates have allegedly been pressured to withdraw, some through arrests. Legislation prevents candidates and supporters from organising rallies,” he said in the report.

In its statement the Foreign Ministry said incidents included in Al-Hussein’s report were “fabricated”.

“The Foreign Ministry calls on the High Commissioner for Human Rights to stop attacking the Egyptian state and instead adopt a professional and objective approach, paying attention to the progress achieved in the area of democratisation,” the statement said.

“Egypt rejects any attempt to cast doubt on the credibility and integrity of the forthcoming presidential poll in the absence of evidence or substantiated information,” the statement continued.

According to the Foreign Ministry, presidential candidates dropped out of the race voluntarily or because they failed to complete their official papers and the authorities dealt with those who had committed violations legally, and with transparency.

In January, former military chief of staff Sami Anan’s presidential campaign was halted following his arrest on charges of breaking military rules by announcing his candidacy without first acquiring the necessary permission, incitement against the army and falsification of election documents.

Anan’s detention came after former prime minister Ahmed Shafik abandoned his own presidential bid, saying at the time that he was out of touch with developments in Egypt after years of living abroad.

Former MP Mohamed Anwar Al-Sadat and rights lawyer Khaled Ali also decided not to stand, citing concerns over the fairness of the poll.


Al-Hussein

Al-Hussein’s report also claimed “independent media have been silenced, with over 400 media and NGO websites completely blocked.”

“My office continues to receive reports pointing to the ongoing targeting of human rights defenders, journalists, civil society activists and supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood, as well as reports of torture in detention,” it noted.

The Foreign Ministry criticised what it called the UN chief’s “covert support” for a terrorist group, a reference to the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood.

“It is unacceptable to see such explicit support in the remarks of Al-Hussein for a terrorist group and its members, as well as continued unfounded accusations regarding the status of non-governmental organisations and media in Egypt,” said the Foreign Ministry statement.

Delivering Egypt’s half-term report on human rights during the 37th session of the Human Rights Council, Minister of Parliamentary Affairs Omar Marwan underscored Egypt’s efforts to implement its international human rights commitments. They included guarding civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights, protecting the rights of women, children, the disabled and refugees along with combating illegal immigration, human trafficking, and corruption. He also detailed the progress Egypt has made on the 223 recommendations it accepted of the 300 recommendations made by the Human Rights Council in 2014.

Marwan said he informed officials in Geneva that Cairo is focusing on two fronts in its fight against terrorism, one based on combating extremist thought, the second on eliminating terrorists. He stressed that Egypt ensures fair trials for all defendants.

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