The Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies submitted a memo “policies in the transitional period in Egypt from a human rights perspective” to the office of the Prime Minister. The memo contains specific policy proposals to orient the cabinet to during the transitional period to democracy in Egypt, particularly in regards to security and foreign policy. CIHRS also sent the section containing its proposals for security policy and apparatuses to the office of the Interior Minister and the section containing its proposals for foreign policy to the office of the Foreign Minister.
Prime Minister Essam Sharaf contacted Bahey eldin Hassan, the director of CIHRS, to express his interest in the memo and confirmed that he will meet with Hassan to discuss the proposals at a later date.
The memo notes that following the January 25 revolution, Egypt should transition from an authoritarian police state to a democratic state that respects human rights. As such, state efforts in this period must focus on dismantling the authoritarian police structure and establishing the building blocks of a new democratic system. In turn, this requires new legislation or amendments to existing legislation, a new constitution, and institutions that embody the new nature of the state.
The memo explains that the current weakness of the security apparatus is fundamentally a political problem linked to the decades-long absence of trust between the people and the police and exacerbated by the lack of transparency about the nature and mission of the new National Security Apparatus. Addressing this lack of trust is at its core a political issue, and it cannot be resolved by simply increasing the numbers and capacities of the police force.
The most important points covered by the memo are as follows:
1. Any new legislation or legislative changes must conform to Egypt’s commitments under international human rights conventions.
2. Human rights organizations should be consulted on human rights issues related to laws, policies, or measures to be enacted.
3. Direct institutional channels of cooperation should be established between human rights organizations and relevant ministries, particularly the Ministries of Interior, Foreign Affairs, Justice, Manpower, Education, and Endowments.
4. Human rights organizations should be involved in the rehabilitation and training of law-enforcement personnel, both administrative and security cadres.
5. A law should be passed instituting a five-year ban on the exercise of political rights for the most prominent figures of the former regime.
6. An independent judicial commission should be established to investigate reports and complaints of torture, involuntary disappearance, and murder (whether under torture or by other methods) filed by human rights groups with the investigative authorities in previous decades.
7. Requests by UN special rapporteurs to visit Egypt must be granted, particularly the Special Rapporteur on torture.
8. State Security Investigations must be entirely eliminated and no similar agency should be established under a different name. Several previous headquarters of the agency should be converted into museums open to the public where all citizens are able to read files about them that were maintained by the agency. A commission composed of judicial figures should be formed to review the files of former State Security officers and determine their fate. All secret documents related to the establishment of the National Security Apparatus should be made public, and an open, transparent debate should be conducted on them. A commission with judicial and rights figures should be formed to monitor the reconstruction of the security apparatus over the next five years.
9. The Ministry of Interior should conduct a broad political and administrative investigation to understand and to inform the public about how the police came to be viewed as an enemy of the Egyptian people. It must also declare its “new” security philosophy clearly and transparently.
10. The dominant role of the Interior Ministry and its control on government ministries and agencies, which was exercised through security offices and bureaus inside them, must come to an end.
11. The state of emergency must be lifted immediately.
12. Daily institutional relations of cooperation, both centralized and decentralized, must be established between human rights organizations and the primary bodies within the Interior Ministry, including police stations and security directorates.
13. Complaints by staff and researchers at the National Council for Human Rights prior to February 11 stating that State Security Investigations dominated the council’s activities and reports and put staff under surveillance must be investigated.
14. Human rights principles must constitute a basic pillar of Egyptian foreign policy.
15. Egyptian foreign policy prior to January 25 should be reevaluated and the ministry’s role in attempting to weaken international instruments for the protection of human rights in Egypt and the world must be examined.
Attached the Memo
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