Universal Periodic Review concludes without meaningful engagement from Egypt
Geneva, 13 March 2020
Human rights organisations regret Egypt’s lack of constructive engagement during the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) and denounce Egypt’s reprisals against NGOs and human rights defenders who submitted information for Egypt’s UPR.
Egypt’s human rights record was reviewed in November 2019, when UN Member States presented 372 recommendations. Yesterday, at the outcome and adoption of its UPR, Egypt accepted 294 recommendations, many of which merely propose cosmetic changes that will not reverse the current human rights crisis. On the other hand, Egypt rejected or only partially supported key human rights-based recommendations, claiming that the government had already successfully implemented some, such as ending the practice of reprisals against human rights defenders, and alleging that others were factually incorrect or not relevant.
In particular, it is deplorable that Egypt rejected both the recommendations on the abolition or moratorium of the death penalty, while claiming to conduct credible investigations into allegations of torture, enforced disappearance and extrajudicial killings. Further, it is equally dismaying that Egypt refused to release those arbitrarily detained for the exercise of their right to freedom of expression, and to recognise the rights of LGBTQI people.
Egypt made it clear yesterday that it is unwilling to address the widespread human rights violations in the country and to honour its international legal obligations to protect and respect the right to life, dignity, and fundamental freedoms, and instead conveying its intention to perpetuate its policies with total impunity.
In light of Egypt’s attempt to dilute the purpose of the UPR process, we call on UN Member States to monitor the level of implementation of the commitments made by Egypt in the adoption and to ensure that the recommendations are integrated into their bilateral dialogue with Egypt. Furthermore, in light of the very serious attacks against human rights defenders in retaliation for their cooperation with UN mechanisms, including for the submission of civil society reports for this UPR process, we call for a strong and international condemnation of such reprisals. Finally, considering the current human rights crisis in Egypt and the country’s continuous disregard for its international commitments, we urge UN Member States to raise Egypt under Item 4, Human Rights Situations that Require the Council’s Attention, at the next Human Rights Council.
DIGNITY – Danish Institute Against Torture
Committee for Justice
Background information/Note to the Editors
The human rights situation in Egypt has sharply deteriorated since the 2014 Egypt UPR. Human Rights organisations monitored an increase in the use of death penalty, denial of fair trial guarantees, enforced disappearance, torture and ill-treatment, restrictions on freedom of expression and attacks against human rights defenders. The repression of civil society reached an unprecedented level in September 2019, when demonstrations against high-level government corruption resulted in the arrest of over 4,000 citizens who participated in the protests or were perceived as dissidents by the Egyptian authorities. The ensuing crackdown included the detention of some prominent human rights defenders and activists, such as lawyer Mohamed El-Baqer, journalist Esraa Abdel Fattah and activist Alaa Abdel Fattah, who were reportedly subjected to torture and ill-treatment in custody. All were detained based on false accusations founded on abusive counter-terrorism and national security legal provisions. Only this week, Dr Aida Seif El Dawla, executive director of El Nadeem Centre for the Rehabiliation of Vctims of Torture and Violence, was summoned to appear in front of the general state prosecutor on accusations of spreading false news.
Moreover, several human rights defenders were kept behind bars throughout the Review process. This includes Ibrahim Metwally, coordinator of the Association of the Families of the Disappeared; Ibrahim Ezz el-Din, housing rights researcher at the Egyptian Commission for Rights and Freedoms, who was subjected to enforced disappearance for 167 days; and researcher and journalist Ismail Al-Iskandarani, who is serving a 10 years prison sentence set by a military court.