The European Parliament’s Human Rights Committee held a hearing session on human rights and European Neighborhood Policy with Egypt and Israel on Monday, 19 June 2006 in Brussels. Moataz El Fegiery, Programs Coordinator of the Cairo institute for Human Rights Studies (CIHRS), and member of the Executive Committee of the Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Network (EMHRN), delivered a speech in this session about human rights developments in Egypt and the Egyptian European Action Plan within the European Neighborhood Policy.
CIHRS criticized the proposed Action Plan for being unspecific in many parts. It asserted that civil society participation in monitoring the implementation of the proposed Action Plan is vital for the success of the European Neighborhood Policy in fostering democracy and human rights. The plan should be detailed according to a specific timeframe in order to insure that all obligations would be carried out. It called as well for the creation of a joint sub-committee on Human rights that accepts and discusses the reports of European and Egyptian human rights non-governmental organizations.
CIHRS expressed its discontent with the attempts of the Egyptian party to increasingly reduce what the Action Plan includes on human rights and democracy. After the meeting of the Partnership Council in 13 June, The Egyptian party made fallacious statements in the Egyptian press claiming that the proposed Action Plan imposes preconditions that are incompatible with the culture and values of the Egyptian society. These claims aim at justifying the languid stand it took in the negotiations towards political reform and the mechanisms of human rights supervision in the Action Plan. The plan, however, enables Egypt to tackle human rights violations in the countries of the European Union.
CIHRS expressed its concerns over the latest escalation against pro-reform activists in Egypt. Escalation was manifest in the detention of hundreds of political activists because of their peaceful activities to demand political reform and their solidarity with pro-reform judges in their struggle for the independence of the judiciary. In the meantime, the five-year prison term for Ayman Nour, President of Al-Ghad Party, was finalized and harassments of journalists and imprisonment in publication offences continuing.
CIHRS considered the new draft law of the judicial authority disappointing and contradictory to the international standards for the independence of the judiciary that the Judges Club called for. It also criticized the practical immunity the security enjoy in crimes of torture, violence against citizens, and the failure of the Public Prosecution to present perpetrators to justice. The presentation of CIHRS representative referred to the grave consequences of the extension of the emergency laws on human rights situation in Egypt, especially that most of the latest arrests were carried out according to this law. Also, CIHRS expressed its worries about the government implicit plans to make detracting amendments to the section on Rights and Freedoms in the Egyptian Constitution, in order to issue the new Anti-Terrorism Law.
It is worth-mentioning that human rights situation in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories was also brought up in this hearing session. Representatives of Palestinian and Israeli human rights organization participated and presented testimonies on the crimes of the occupation against Palestinian civilians and the discrimination against Arabs in Israel.
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