Egypt’s NCHR participates in 137th session of Human Rights Committee in Geneva

Ahram Online , Tuesday 28 Feb 2023

Egypt’s National Council for Human Rights (NCHR) is participating in the 137th session of the Human Rights Committee that is being held in Geneva from 27 February to 24 march.

President of the National Council for Human Rights (NCHR) Moushira Khattab delivers a speech in December 2022. NCHR/File photo

The session is reviewing reports on the status of the implementation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights for Egypt and five other countries - Panama, Peru, Sri Lanka, Turkmenistan and Zambia.

President of the NCHR Moushira Khattab, who is heading a high-level Egyptian delegation to the session, presented to the committee on the council’s assessment of the Human Rights Committee’s report on the state of political and civil rights in Egypt from November 2020 to September 2022.

Political will on human rights

Khattab noted in her contribution that the Egyptian state deals in a serious manner with issues of human rights in light of the existing political will to enhance the state of political and civil rights in the country.

In this regard, Khattab cited the state’s adoption of a National Strategy for Human Rights in 2021, the reactivation of the Presidential Pardon Committee in 2022, and recent steps taken to release, reengage and rehabilitate prisoners.

She highlighted that the state’s initiation of a process to hold a national dialogue, which comprises all political currents, is a step that can bolster political and civil rights.

The state’s keenness to deal with human rights issues is also reflected in the composition of the NCHR, which adheres to the Paris Principles, Khattab noted.

The NCHR is chaired by a woman for the first time since its establishment with women representing a majority of the members of the council, she explained.

Citizens’ regular use of the council’s in-place complaints system reflects public trust in the national human rights mechanisms, Khattab added.

She affirmed productive cooperation between the NCHR and the Presidential Pardon Committee.

She said that the council’s frequent visits to the correctional and rehabilitation centres are means to exercise oversight on prisoner’s conditions.

Khattab noted that the NCHR made 10 visits to the correctional centres over the past 10 months, describing this rate of visits as unprecedented in the council’s history.

The council also issued a training guide for visits to detention centres, which was based on the Nelson Mandela Rules, she added.

New reality

Meanwhile, in response to a number of questions by members of the Human Rights Committee, NCHR Deputy Chairman Mahmoud Karem said that the National Strategy for Human Rights has created a new reality in the country and reflected the state’s commitment to prioritise human rights issues.

Karem underscored the role played by the NCHR in monitoring the state of human rights in Egypt.

He affirmed that the NCHR’s reports reflect the actual situation inside the country.

Karem stressed that the NCHR plays a pivotal role in reviewing legislations to ensure they are consistent with the international human rights standards, adding that the council monitors the implementation of the National Strategy for Human Rights.

He affirmed that the NCHR is open to cooperation with civil society organisations, highlighting that 2022 was declared as a Year of Civil Society in Egypt.

He also stressed the council's openness to cooperation with international partners amid local efforts to improve the human rights situation.

The NCHR was also the first body to send recommendations for the National Dialogue, Karem said.

The human rights situation in Egypt is improving rapidly, he asserted.

The government respects the separation of powers and the independence of the judiciary, Karem said.

The delegation included NCHR members Wafaa Benjamin, Samira Louka, Said Abdel-Hafez, Abdel-Gawad Ahmed and Mahmoud Bassiouny.

These members underlined in their contributions that the judicial authority in Egypt has been independent since its inception.

They also stressed that the country’s laws do not allow the executive authority to interfere in judicial matters.

They also said that 106 political parties operate in the country legally per the 1977 law on political parties.

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