Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies (CIHRS), called upon the international community to exert effective efforts to urge Arab governments to duly reconsider their legislation, policy and practices contravening their international obligations to protect freedom of assembly, freedom of expression and freedom to form associations, including non-governmental organizations. In its report before the Sseventh Ssession of the UN Human Rights Council, which began on Monday March 3rd 2008, CIHRS stressed that special attention should be awarded to providing
protection to human rights defenders in the Arab World. CIHRS pointed out indicated also that recently there have been huge harassments of human rights organizations and defenders have been increasingly subject to abusive and suppressive actions by government actors inof democratic rights and freedoms in the majority of Arab countries, particularly Egypt, Syria, Bahrain and Tunisia.
The report also addressed the recent forced closure by Egyptian authorities of the in this context, CIHRS report monitored the Egyptian authorities’ impervious practice of dissolving the Association for Human Rights Legal Aid, as well as a closure of syndicate and trade union service headquarters. CIHRS warned of increasingly repressive conditions being imposed on NGOs in Egypt through government efforts to amend the Law of Associations to include a more restrictive regulations/laws limiting the right of association and expression for non-governmental organizations.
In its report, CIHRS also described elucidated the hazards faced by Syrian activists. In particular, the refusal of Syrian authorities to legally acknowledge human rights
organizations, the prosecution, through a series of pursuits and trials, against
dozens tens of qualified professionals personnel belonging to human rights organizations, and civil society revival committees, including the and leaders of the National Council of the “Damascus Declaration”; a Declaration that calls calling on the government to adopt a comprehensive program for democratic reform. The report also decried the arbitrary closure of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights since 2004 by the Bahrain government, as well as the Bahraini authorities’ refrainment from registering a number of civil society associations and organizations. These organizations were not only closed by the government, but the president of one civil society one of these associations was also put onto trial.
Egypt attacks human rights defenders at the UN Human Rights Council:
On the other hand, on March 12, the Egyptian government delegation to the UN Human Rights Council accused human rights defenders organizations of “violating the most basic fundamental principles of human rights and humanitarian principlesty,” without giving any supporting evidence.” The government delegation alleged that amendments introduced by the Egyptian government to the Law of Associations aims at enhancing the role played by NGO’s, which runs
counter to the assessment of many Egyptian NGOs, including a CIHRS report on the
aforementioned amendments. CIHRS found that these amendments clearly seek to impose further arbitrary restrictions on NGOs.
The delegation also criticized also the report released by the UN Special Rapporteur on the Protection of Human Rights Defenders. It should be noted that the UN Rapporteur’s report includes information on four cases of assaults by the Egyptian government on human rights defenders including: the closure of the syndicate and
trade union service centrehouse; the prison sentence against Kamal Abbas, the founder of this centrehouse; the dissolution of the Association for Human Rights Legal Aid; as well as and; the arrest of defenders of the rights of the Shiite minority in Egypt, namely, Mohamed Al Deriny and Adham Soubh. The report censured the Egyptian government’s breach of the Universal Declaration for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, and also probed the major violations against human rights defenders in Egypt and 13 other Arab states including Algeria, Bahrain, Iraq,
Jordan, Libya, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Sudan, Somalia, Tunisia, The United Arab Emirates and Yemen.
* Enclosed herewith is the full text of CIHRS report