Friday, January 18, 2008

European Parliament Resolution on Egypt's Human Rights Situation

The European Parliament has just passed a resolution on the situation of human rights in Egypt. The resolution is quite critical of Egypt's record on human rights and cites specific examples such as the one regarding religious minorities, including the Baha'is. It states that they "are still sadly crippled by sectarian isolation."

The resolution also affirms that it "Recognises the role that Egypt plays in the Middle East peace process and the importance that EU-Egypt relations have for the entire Euro-Mediterranean area, but points out that respect for human rights is a fundamental value of the EU-Egypt Association Agreement and reaffirms the importance of the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership for promoting the rule of law and fundamental freedoms...."

Furthermore, the European Parliament "Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the Egyptian Government and Parliament, the governments and parliaments of the Member States and the Mediterranean countries which are signatories to the Barcelona Declaration and the President of the Euro-Mediterranean Parliamentary Assembly."

In order to read the full resolution, please click here....

The reaction in Egypt reflected a strong rejection of the resolution as reported in several news items in the Egyptian press. One of which was published in Cairo today by Al-Masry Al-Youm [Arabic version] daily newspaper. The paper wrote the following in its English version:

The Foreign Ministry yesterday summoned all 27 ambassadors of the European Union countries to officially express Egypt's rejection of a draft resolution presented to the EU Parliament criticizing Egypt's human rights record and calling for the immediate release of former head of the Ghad Party, Ayman Nour.

The official spokesman for the Egyptian Foreign Ministry Hossam Zaki told reporters the ministry informed the European side that "Egypt does not accept anyone to comment on its the human rights status, nor will it allow itself to preach other countries on their internal affairs no matter what remarks Egypt has on these countries' performance in the filed of human rights."


In a sign of the mounting EU-Egyptian discord over the latest resolution, Speaker of the Shurra Council Safwat el-Sherif announced a decision to suspend the Upper House of Parliament's participation in the meetings of the political and economic committees of the Euro-Mediterranean Parliament scheduled for next week in Brussels in what was described as a protest measure against the draft resolution, which was expected to be adopted in principle on Wednesday.


The draft resolution calls for the immediate release of Nour; putting an end to what was described as the exercise of torture and ill-treatment; the non-replacement of the declared emergency status with a new anti-terrorism law tailored as a tool to criminalize the civil societies' peaceful activities, their freedom of expression, or the imposition of arbitrary restrictions on these societies and their activities.


The EU Parliament's resolution also described the lifting of the emergency status in Egypt as being of critical importance and called for guaranteeing and corroborating judicial independence through amending and abolishing all articles of the law negating or undermining judicial independence.


On a positive note, one can see this as a wonderful opportunity for Egypt to prove to her citizens first, and the world second, that she can respect human rights and enforce laws that would guarantee her citizens their rightful protection and equality in opportunity and treatment regardless of their creed, gender, thought or religious orientation.

Further links to the story: AFP, Earth Times, Yahoo News, Reuters.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Radio Cairo has been repeating the same response of rejection in its news broadcast.

r.a. said...

This latest resolution challenges decades of rulership that has sought to feign democracy and justice while attempting to maintain the appearance of legitimacy by aligning itself with international bodies. That the response of the Egyptian Foreign Ministry was to reject the resolution by such statements as “Egypt does not accept anyone to comment on its the human rights status”, and further “summoned all 27 ambassadors of the European Union countries to officially express Egypt's rejection…” only confirms the determination to maintain the course of authoritarianism. One might ask what was the intent of ratifying numerous human rights covenants, only to violate their provisions, and then attempt to accuse members of participant countries of meddling and infringement?

This resolution initiated by the EU Parliament is further pronouncement that it is not a unilateral entity, such as the United States, that identifies the Egyptian government’s violation of human rights and practice of democracy. More so, critical concern and persistence by the international community has been the logical consequence to Egypt’s obstinate refusal to amend its actions.

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