Egypt

The arbitrary detention of Hossam Bahgat, (the founder of the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights, an  independent  Egyptian  human  rights  organization  and  a  journalist at Mada Masr, an online news site), on November 9th, 2015 is a mere reflection of the crackdown on civil rights in Egypt and the grim truth about the restricted enjoyment of the ‘’freedom’’ of expression and opinion in the country, that is essentially guaranteed by the Egyptian Constitution Article 651 and Article 19th of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, that Egypt is party to.

The peoples’ uprisings in the Arab region presented a golden occasion for revisiting the European Neighborhood Policy (ENP) and particularly the partnership between the Arab countries and the European Union (EU).  The Joint Communication of the High Representative and European Commission, “A New Response to a Changing Neighborhood, ” highlighted important lessons learnt but remained an exercise of self-assessment without the engagement of EU partners and relevant stakeholders (including civil society) for what are widely considered today as major historical changes in the Arab countries.

For the fourth successive year, a delegation of human rights and development civil society organizations from the Arab region will be visiting the European institutions in Brussels between the 8th and the 12th  of December 2014. The Arab delegation includes civil society representatives from Egypt, Jordan, Palestine, Morocco, Syria, Tunisia and Lebanon.

This visit seeks to provide a platform for dialogue and exchange between civil society organizations from the Arab region and European policy makers at the Parliament and Commission around the EU’s support and involvement in the region.

Serious developments regarding the violations of rights in Egypt are becoming more evident, as the Ministry of Social Solidarity proposes a new law, which would constitute a dangerous escalation in the framework of systematic targeting of civil society activists and the increasing restrictions imposed upon them.

On 26 June 2014, the Egyptian ministry in charge of regulating civil society organization proposed a new draft law, causing shockwaves among civil society organizations (CSOs) in the country. For six months, they had carried out negotiations with former Social Solidarity Minister Dr. Ahmed el-Boraei, which led to a proposed law to be presented to forthcoming parliament soon after the elections.

The undersigned organizations condemn the security forces storming of the Egyptian Center for Economic and Social Rights, Alexandria Branch, and note that such attack is an expected escalation, amidst the growing incitement in the media, and defamation campaigns, which have been targeting human rights organizations and human rights defenders in Egypt.

Egyptian security forces, alongside security personnel dressed in civilian attire, raided the Alexandria Branch of The Egyptian Center for Economic and Social Rights, arresting 15, including two minors, and two ECESR staff, and confiscating several computers and documents. The arrested were taken to the Alexandria Security Department where they were held, until released hours later.

Demonstration in Cairo.
(Photo: EACPE)

On December 19th, 2013 dawn in Cairo had witnessed an abusive raid against the headquarters of "the Egyptian Center for Economic and Social Rights" by the Egyptian police. The assaulters have kidnapped a photographer and two volunteers, tampered with the contents of the center, and seized some computers and documents. The kidnapped were taken to an unknown location. Up until the late hours of morning, the Egyptian center's lawyers were still searching for the kidnapped to commence the necessary legal procedures for their release.

The volunteers were preparing for a press conference called for by the Centre, to defend the rights of the workers of the “Iron and Steel Company” in Helwan,  the “Swedish Cables” in Giza,”Santamora of blankets Tenth of Ramadan”   and the Egyptian General Company for Tourism and Hotels" EGOTH "Shepherd”.

As Egypt’s political crisis continues, its government will be asked to account to the United Nations for what has been done to address the social injustices which fuelled the revolution.

On November 14, Egypt will appear before the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights in Geneva, where it will be required to demonstrate how it has taken into account its human rights obligations as a party to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights in navigating the country´s turbulent transition. This will mark the first time that Egypt has come before a UN human rights treaty body since the 2011 revolution.

Demonstration in Cairo. (Photo:
EACPE)

The dramatic developments in the region carry positive indicators of a better future. Recent developments in Egypt reshuffled cards and underscored the fact that citizens are capable of getting hold of initiative and change once they feel their rights and their revolution’s achievement are in danger. The fact that more than 22 million people gathered in squares in all Egyptian cities after 22 million signatures were collected by the “Tamarod” movement, reiterates that peoples’ will is unbeatable and that people are capable of regaining their rights with their hands even after a while. 

Demonstration at Tahrir Square,
Cairo.(Photo: EACPE)

Almost two years have passed since human rights and feminists organizations expressed their deep concern at the escalation of policies that reinforce impunity, do not protect citizens and do not guarantee the right of peaceful assembly. The exclusion of women from the public sphere through direct incitement and aggression must be condemned. The heinous crimes of sexual violence can not be separated from the decline of the social status of women.

The revolution of January 25, as the Egyptians call it, is the fourth in the last hundred and thirty years. The modern national movement has sought an effective national sovereignty, particularly with regard to economy and the ability to ensure socio-economic justice in the distribution of wealth and income. The Egyptian people discovered that without internal democracy it is impossible to preserve the conquests from previous revolutions. January 25 revolution asserts, then, the centrality of democracy, not only as a utopian goal, which practical implementation would be deferred indefinitely, but to lay the foundations of a modern, independent and prosperous country.

Almost two years have passed since human rights and feminists organizations expressed their deep concern at the escalation of policies that reinforce impunity, do not protect citizens and do not guarantee the right of peaceful assembly. The exclusion of women from the public sphere through direct incitement and aggression must be condemned. The heinous crimes of sexual violence can not be separated from the decline of the social status of women. The revolution of January 25, as the Egyptians call it, is the fourth in the last hundred and thirty years. The modern national movement has sought an effective national sovereignty, particularly with regard to economy and the ability to ensure socio-economic justice in the distribution of wealth and income. The Egyptian people discovered that without internal democracy it is impossible to preserve the conquests from previous revolutions. January 25 revolution asserts, then, the centrality of democracy, not only as a utopian goal, which practical implementation would be deferred indefinitely, but to lay the foundations of a modern, independent and prosperous country.
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