Political groups, figures concerned over 'politicised' human rights council
Ahram Online, Wednesday 5 Sep 2012
Several political groups and figures reject criteria on which Islamist-led Shura Council chose members for Egypt's official human rights body

On Tuesday, Egypt's Shura Council (the upper, consultative house of parliament) voted on the new board of the National Council on Human Rights (NCHR). Critics accused the Islamist-dominated body of intentionally appointing unqualified Islamists to the council.

The Leftist Revolution Youth Union said that the new appointments, as well as President Morsi's decree to appoint 10 new governors, is only a replacement of old regime figures with Muslim Brotherhood ones, without consideration of qualifications, calling the developments a "clear attempt of taking over power."

Strong Egypt, the political party led by renegade Muslim Brotherhood leader and ex-presidential candidate Abdel-Moneim Abul-Fotouh, released a statement criticising the method by which the council members were chosen, and called on the Shura Council to reconsider its appointments and take into consideration more the qualifications of the suggested members, not party affiliations.

Hazem Mounir, one of the few members who kept his position in the NCHR, said that the council is not a political entity and was not supposed to be regarded as such in the appointment criteria, which depended on party representation. Mounir expressed concern over the council's future, saying there is a trend towards amassing power, adding that not enough professional human rights workers are on the new board.

"The new member makeup is indeed more politically natured as there is more representation for political figures over human rights workers and youth. It also neglected representation of women rights workers. The appointment of Judge Hossam El-Gheryani, on the other hand, was a positive step. He is a judiciary icon and I believe he could act as the cement that keeps the council together," said Ahmed Seif El-Islam, longtime leftist human rights lawyer and new member of the NCHR.

El-Gheryani replaces longtime diplomat Boutrous Boutrous Ghali, former secretary general of the United Nations and former foreign minister under the Sadat and Mubarak regimes.

Ehab El-Kharrat, a new member of the NCHR and head of the Human Rights Committee of the Shura Council, said that party representation was the Shura Council's main criteria in choosing the new members of the NCHR.

Mohamed Tusson, a Freedom and Justice Party member and head of the Shura Council's Legislative and Constitutional Affairs Committee, denied, during a television interview Tuesday evening,allegations that the Muslim Brotherhood is trying to dominate the new appointments. Tusson also denied that the appointments neglected the presence of human rights workers, saying there are enough human rights and leftist figures on the new board.

The new board of the NCHR includes 27 members, at least nine of which are Islamist figures.