The 50th session of the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) begins today, Monday 13 June, and is expected to run until 8 July 2022. During the session, the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies (CIHRS), in cooperation with partner regional and international human rights organizations, will focus on the human rights situation in five countries in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region: Egypt, Palestine, Syria, Libya, Algeria
Coinciding with the start of the 50th HRC session, CIHRS will be sharing before the UN its submissions on Algeria to the Universal Periodic Review (UPR), which will take place in November 2022. CIHRS submitted four reports on Algeria, including three joint reports with coalitions of Algerian and international human rights organizations. The first joint report, gave an overview of developments in Algeria’s human rights situation since 2017, with a focus on freedom of peaceful assembly, expression, and association, freedom of conscience, the right to access justice, migrant and refugee rights, gender equality, and social, cultural, and economic rights.
The second joint report, examined access to justice, including judicial independence, the right to a fair trial, accountability for gross human rights violations committed during the civil war, torture and ill-treatment in detention, and access to justice for gender-based violence. The third joint report, examined the state of civic space in Algeria, with a focus on civil and political freedoms and counter-terrorism and human rights. In a fourth individual submission, CIHRS reviewed the evolution of the state of freedom of association and peaceful assembly over the past five years.
During the session, CIHRS will participate in the Universal Periodic Review process of the Syrian Arab Republic through an oral statement to the UNHRC. The statement refutes the Syrian government’s false claims of progress in human rights, and stresses the urgent need to form a UN mechanism aimed at ensuring disclosure in regards to the fates of those forcibly disappeared in Syria alongside the disclosure of detention sites where victims of enforced disappearance are held. CIHRS will also participate in the interactive dialogue with the Commission of Inquiry on Syria to raise the issue of the Syrian refugee and internal displacement crisis, and call to end any and all efforts to forcibly return refugees to Syria.
In preparation for the 50th session of the HRC, CIHRS and a coalition of local and international partners submitted three written interventions to the Council. Two of them focused on the human rights situation in Syria, the expected role of the United Nations in protecting the safe, dignified and voluntary return of Syrian refugees, and the formation of an independent UN mechanism to reveal the fate of victims of enforced disappearance in Syria. The third intervention focused on the most recent developments in Palestine’s Gaza Strip, including Israel’s escalation of daily violence against Gaza residents living under its occupation and the continuous violation of Palestinians’ fundamental rights. During the session, the International Commission of Inquiry on the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and in Israel, will present its first report to the Council. The report will highlight Israel’s ‘continued occupation’, ‘discrimination against Palestinians’ and ‘culture of impunity as the key root causes of the current situation.
CIHRS, working with Libyan and international partners, will build support for the renewal of the mandate of the UN Independent Fact Finding Mission (FFM) on Libya. The FFM is an essential tool towards supporting justice and the rule of law in Libya by holding to account those who perpetuate the conflict by committing grave violations of human rights. CIHRS will also participate in the interactive dialogue with the UN Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Opinion and Expression, focusing in particular on restrictions on freedom of expression in Egypt.
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