he European Parliament Adopts Civil Society’s Recommendations on Human Rights and Democracy in the EU-Egyptian Action Plan (A Joint Statement by 19 Egyptian NGOs )

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The undersigned NGOs welcome the resolution by the European Parliament (EP) in which it calls upon the European Commission (EC) and the Egyptian government to incorporate priorities of respect for human rights and political reform in the current negotiations on the European Neighborhood Policy&#146s (ENP) Action Plan. The resolution, made on April 6, adopts the main demands of civil society associations in Egypt, which were first submitted to both the Egyptian and European parties in September 2005, and have been followed by subsequent detailed memoranda. The EP was called upon to include in the Action Pan specific measurable obligations and time bound commitments. Emphasis was also made on the importance of involving civil society in the evaluation of implementation of the Action Plan, and the importance of setting up a joint subcommittee on human rights. The resolution asserts that the Action Pan&#146s chapter on “Human Rights and Democracy” should include some priority obligations to be assumed by the Egyptian government. These include abolishing emergency laws, administrative detention, taking all measures to stop the spreading practices of torture, and safeguarding the independence of the judiciary, freedom of association and establishment of parties and/or NGOs, and the independence and freedom of the media. The resolution also urged the Egyptian government to reform the legal framework regulating elections, safeguard the freedom of religion and belief and put an end to all forms of discrimination against citizens on grounds of sex and/or belief. The resolution also notes that unless the Action Pan includes recognized standards of human rights and democracy, there is no need to hastily adopt it in the European-Egyptian Association Council&#146s meeting to be held in June 2006.

Expressing their satisfaction with the resolution, that they deem it supportive of their demands, the signatory human rights NGOs urge the EC and the Egyptian government to take the recommendations included in the EP&#146s resolution into consideration during negotiations, in the hope that the Action Pan meets the aspiration of the Egyptian people to reform and protection of human rights.

It is worth-mentioning that the negotiations between the Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the European Union (EN) have started last September. Four rounds of negotiations have been made in Cairo and Brussels. Both parties have been endeavoring to arrive at an agreement on the final draft before the Egyptian- European Association Council&#146s meeting next June. The Plan includes obligations on the Egyptian government to take measures at the cultural, economic, social and political levels against providing Egypt with some economic and trade advantages.

It is also worth mentioning that the Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs declined an invitation to participate in a seminar organized last January by human rights NGOs on the negotiations. It also refused to receive a delegation of civil society representatives to follow up the negotiations and talks on recommendations and suggestions. The EC, however, attended the seminar and agreed to meet with representatives of the European and Egyptian NGOs&#146 representatives in many occasions in Cairo and Brussels.

Signatory NGOs include the following:
1. Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies
2. Arab Network for Human Rights Information
3. Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights
4. Egyptian Association for Social participation
5. Egyptian Organization for Human Rights
6. Habi Center for Environmental Rights
7. Egyptian Association for the Strengthening of Democratic Development
8. Egyptian Center for Women&#146s Rights
9. Human Rights Association for the Assistance of Prisoners
10. Center for Trade Union and Workers&#146 Services
11. Land Center for Human Rights
12. Hisham Mubarak Law Center
13. The Arab Organization for Penal Reform
14. Ibn Khaldun center for development studies
15. Andalus institute for tolerance and Anti Violence Studies
16. Egyptian civil platform
17. Karma center for development
18. Egyptian women issues &#146 center
19. the Sons of land institution


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