Euro-Egyptian Negotiations Must Be Transparent and Accessible to Civil Society NGOs: Press Release signed by 25 NGOs

In Egypt /Road Map Program, Euro-Mediterranean Partnership, Parliament & the European Union by

Today, Cairo witnesses launching of the Euro-Egyptian Negotiations about the action plan on Egypt within the context of European Neighborhood Policy (ENP), which European Union (EU) issued in May 2004, and which is considered as a developing extension of the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership and Barcelona declaration of 1995. ENP is based on promotion of dialogue between EU countries and their partner states with the aim of giving these countries a chance to benefit from social, economic and political achievements of the European Union. Jordan and Morocco signed similar action plans, while negotiations with Tunisia have been finalized. It is worth noting that all three action plans devote distinct sections to issues of political reform, democracy and human rights.
The signatory Egyptian NGOs below, note that, although EU countries imply the failure of the 10 years old Barcelona process, to achieve any progress in political reform process in the Arab countries, and despite the fact that ENP was designed to overcome the shortcomings of the Association Agreements, but the devoted sections on democracy and human rights in the three action plans were very weak. In addition, these plans were drafted in a very broad language that does not set defined and measurable commitments. What raises concerns in this regard is that the available information about the EU proposed action plan to Egypt, is more modest than those of the other three Arab States?!
In this context, the signatory NGOs underline the importance of making the Egypt action plan supports political reform in Egypt. Thus the action plan must take into consideration the issues that might hinder democratization and respect of human rights.
On the other hand, negotiation should be opened to civil society NGOs, by making its information accessible. This means providing civil society with the necessary information about developments of the negotiations, as well as allowing NGOs to submit memos, suggestions and recommendations to both sides.
Thus, the NGOs ask both the Egyptian government and European Commission to put the following recommendations into account during negotiations:
• Supporting the rule of law, lifting the state of emergency, and guaranteeing not to redress it in an “anti-terrorism law”, and releasing the detainees without charges.
• Making sure that the Egyptian government provide the necessary guarantees for fair and free elections, and allows national and international monitoring of elections.
• Guaranteeing the right of association, through abolition of legislative, administrative and security constraints on freedom of assembly and the right to establish political parties, NGOs, professional syndicates, trade unions and students unions. In addition to guaranteeing academic freedoms and independence of universities.
• Amending the legal framework regulating the establishment and running of media instruments in Egypt, in order to allow establishing and private ownership of TV and radio stations, and guaranteeing the independence of state owned media in a way that reflect diversified thoughts, ideas, religions, ideologies, and political orientations in the Egyptian society.
• Providing guarantees for the independence of the judiciary and the right to fair trials and abolishing exceptional courts and the referral of civil citizens to military courts.
• Providing tracks for parliamentary dialogue between the two sides, and dialogue between political parties in Egypt and Europe.
• The Egyptian government should meet its obligations according to the international treaties it signed, and the recommendations of UN human rights treaty bodies, as well as the recommendations of international and human rights NGOs, and accordingly amending the concerned legislations. Moreover; Egypt should ratify the Rome Statue establishing the International Criminal Court.
• Guaranteeing the equality before law without discrimination based on religion or sex, protecting women from different forms of violence (physical, psychological, and sexual), and taking all the arrangements required to protect women from discrimination. The Egyptian reservations on the convention of Elimination of All forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) and other human rights treaties should be dropped.
• Guaranteeing Freedom of belief, religion, thoughts and artistic creativity.
• Taking all the required arrangements to improve prisons conditions, and fighting torture in detention places in a way that makes Egypt meets its obligation according to the International Convention Against Torture. The Egyptian government should ratify the relevant protocol. The crime of torture should be redefined to be consistent with the international definition.
• Reforming the legal framework regulating labor conditions to match international standards.
• Protecting the rights of handicapped persons, and eliminating all forms of discrimination against them in public and private spheres, in a way that matches international conventions.
• Establishing a joint sub-committee on human rights, this committee should not be exclusively governmental; it should be opened to human rights NGOs in Egypt and Europe.
The signatories

• Awlad Al-Ard Institution for Human Rights
• Nadeem Center for Psychological Therapy and Rehabilitation of the Victims of Violence
• Habi Center For Environmental Rights
• The Land Center for Human Rights
• The Arabic Network for Human Rights Information
• Alkalema Center for Human Rights
• Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights
• Andalus Institute for Tolerance and Anti-Violence Studies
• Ibn Khaldon Center for Development Studies
• The Egyptian Association for Advancement through Social Partnership
• Center for Egyptian Women&#146s legal Assistance foundation
• Egyptian Organization for Human Rights
• Dialogue forum for development and Human Rights
• The Human Rights Center for the Assistance of Prisoners
• The Egyptian Center for Women&#146s Rights
• Egyptian Social Democratic Center
• Egyptian Association for the Support of the Democratic Development
• Arab Organization for Criminal Reform
• Group for Democratic Development
• Center for Trade Unions and Workers&#146 Services
• The Center for Alternative Development Studies
• Shomuu Association for Humanitarian Rights and developing local community
• Egyptian Euro-Mediterranean Civil platform
• The Association for Human Rights Legal Aid
• Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies

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