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UN rights committee to examine Egypt’s human rights record

February 28, 2023 at 11:18 am

People protest against greenwashing the human rights crisis during the COP27 in Egypt on 13 November, 2022 [Romy Arroyo Fernandez/NurPhoto via Getty Images]

The United Nations Human Rights Committee will hold a two-day session this week to examine the Egyptian government’s implementation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

The ICCPR is an international human rights treaty ratified by Egypt in 1982 which commits states to respecting civil and political rights of individuals, including the right to life, freedom of religion, speech, assembly, elections and due process.

The session comes as nine human rights organisations have urged the Egyptian government to release figures on the number of detainees in prison following a prolonged nationwide crackdown on members of the opposition.

The Egyptian government has built dozens of new prisons since 2013, held prisoners in inhumane conditions and extensively used pretrial detention, according to their report.

Also this month a group of Egyptian rights organisations demanded the government stop forcible disappearances and that authorities carry out independent investigations into perpetrators.

The UN Committee will also hold a closed briefing for Egyptian and international human rights organisations, reports the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR).

READ: UN must adopt resolution on human rights in Egypt

The EIPR will take part in this briefing via video link as its executive director and several of its members are banned from travelling outside Egypt.

In May last year the UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders called on the Egyptian government to stop targeting members of the EIPR after authorities arrested and raided the homes of senior staff members.

In recent years the Egyptian government has increasingly imposed travel bans on human rights defenders, often to prevent them attending conferences and events where they would shed light on the human rights situation back home.

Many only find out they are banned from travelling when they arrive at the airport and their passports are confiscated.

Earlier this week seven human rights organisations sent a letter to the Permanent Representatives of Member and Observer States of the United Nations Human Rights Council to ask why the council had not followed up on a joint statement made by 32 states on the human rights crisis in the country.

The human rights situation in Egypt has deteriorated, said the letter, and UN experts have said that there is an increased risk of reprisals to dissidents post Cop27.

The co-signatories urged joint action by UN member states to send a message to Egyptian authorities that widespread violations and impunity are not acceptable.