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3 human rights group say UNDP Egypt report 'false and misleading'

United Nations Development Programme administrator Achim Steiner speaks to AFP in an interview in the Sudanese capital Khartoum during his visit to the country, on 29 January 2020. [ASHRAF SHAZLY/AFP via Getty Images]
United Nations Development Programme administrator Achim Steiner speaks to AFP in an interview in the Sudanese capital Khartoum during his visit to the country, on 29 January 2020. [ASHRAF SHAZLY/AFP via Getty Images]

Three human rights watchdogs have said that the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) September report includes "false and misleading claims."

Amnesty International, the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies and Human Rights Watch (HRW) have said that the claims in the report appear to whitewash violations of international human rights law carried out by Egyptian authorities and security forces.

On 1 November the three organisations wrote a letter to UNDP administrator Achim Steiner with details of the false and misleading claims.

UNDP Egypt said there had been an improvement in prison conditions and that Egypt has worked to strengthen accountability mechanisms, even though the special rapporteur on extrajudicial killings has stated that the prison conditions in Egypt puts the lives of thousands of detainees in danger, the letter stated.

The development programme also comments positively on Law 149/2019 on NGOs, stating that it serves to "strengthen the role of NGOs," when in fact it prohibits Egyptian organisations from hiring, engaging, consulting, or cooperating with foreign volunteers or staff or foreign organisations without approval from the government.

READ: Egypt sentences 5 pro-democracy activists to prison

UNDP's report also commends Egypt's counter-terror legislation even though it has been systematically used to criminalise dissent and erode fair trial guarantees, the letter states.

"The UNDP's report sets out a narrative that contradicts reports and statements made by other UN agencies and independent Human Rights Council experts, as well as scores of reports and assessments made by independent national and international human rights organisations over the past eight years," reads the letter.

"The Egypt Human Development report, as well as public statements made by UNDP Egypt, reflect a profound dissonance between the discourse of the UNDP and the reality on the ground in Egypt. The report provides misleading information to decision makers, including financial institutions, which have a responsibility to take up pressing human rights and rule of law issues with Egypt."

The letter calls on the UNDP to revise and align its content with other UN expert assessments and the UN's framework of human rights.

It asked the programme to ensure it consults with UN bodies and independent civil society actors before releasing such reports and open an investigation into the drafting and publication of the report and make the findings public.

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AfricaEgyptHRWInternational OrganisationsNewsUN
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