In an International Conference in Germany: CIHRS Reviews Human Rights Violations in the Arab Countries under the Pretext of War on Terrorism

In International Advocacy Program by

Sponsored by the German Institute for Human Rights, an international conference on counter-terrorism and human rights was held in Berlin, Monday, the 2nd October. Participants of the conference, around 100, included German and international human rights organizations, academicians, German media, the UN Special Rapporteur on Counter-Terrorism and Human Rights, Representatives of the German Parliament and Foreign Ministry, and a range of Arab and non-Arab Diplomatic missions in Germany.

In his intervention on counter-terrorism policies in Egypt and the Arab countries and their impacts on human rights, Moataz El- fegiery, CIHRS Programs Director, voiced CIHRS&#146 deep concern that the mounting human rights violations in some European countries and the United States within the framework of counter-terrorism gave legitimacy to Arab regimes to impose more policies and laws that egregiously violate rights and freedoms. El-Fegiery stressed that Western countries, engrossed with the counter-terrorism security approach in the Middle East, gave too little attention to handling the real reasons for the breakout of violence in the region, which results primarily from economic and social marginalization, political authoritarianism, and predominance of extremist religious discourse and failure to find just solutions for the Palestinian issue. CIHRS Programs Director criticized the counter-terrorism laws introduced in some Arab countries (viz. Tunisia, Jordan, Morocco and Bahrain) following 9/11 events, and attacked the continued application of the Emergency Law in Egypt which is manipulated to arrest political opposition figures. Spotting light on the violation of the right to just trial in Egypt ensuing from continued operation of state security courts and referring citizens to court-martials, CIHRS inveighed against the systematic tortures in Egyptian prisons and inability of the Judicial system to give equity to victims. Ringing alarm bells, CIHRS pointed out that the Egyptian government is currently seeking to introduce a new law on counter-terrorism, in spite of the already existing 1992 Counter-terrorism Law that has been incurring negative impacts on human rights ever since.

In his turn, Martin Scheinin, the UN Special Rapporteur on Counter-Terrorism and Human Rights, expressed regret for being continually denied access to Egypt, deliberately by the Egyptian government, in order to investigate counter-terrorism policy impacts on human rights. Scheinin leveled criticism at the Arab countries – both in terms of their national legislations and the Arab Counter-Terrorism convention, which came into force in 1999 – for using loose definitions that rigidly restrict freedom of expression and the right to association, and undermine justice. The Special Rapporteur affirmed that no country, under the international law, is allowed to renege unconditionally on its commitments in times of danger – whether domestic or foreign – and that tortures, arbitrary detention and unfair trials can by no means be justified under the pretext of counter-terrorism.

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