Egyptian Organisation for Human Rights holds seminar in Geneva, discusses compensation for terrorism victims

Ahram Online , Friday 14 Sep 2018

Head of EOHR Hafez Abou Seada speaks during a seminar on human rights and terrorism (Photo: Courtesy of EOHR)

The Egyptian Organisation for Human Rights (EOHR) held on Friday its second seminar themed "Terrorism and Human Rights in Egypt: compensating the victims of terrorism and the supporting role of Qatar."

The remarks were made on the sidelines of the 39th session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva.

The seminar was a continuation of the first seminar held on Wednesday by EOHR on forced disappearances in Egypt, during which they sought to refute such accusations.

Friday's seminar was attended by a number of diplomats, journalists and rights activists, and included the attendance of the President of EOHR, Hafez Abou Seada.

In his speech, Abou Seada said that it was necessary that the international community works closely with countries that are fighting terrorism, like Egypt, as part of an implementation of a resolution by the Security Council obliging countries to cooperate in the exchange of information and increase funding, all while preventing the movement and accommodation of terrorism leaders.

He said that EOHR took on the cases of terrorism victims, filing lawsuits for their rights in compensations from countries supporting terrorism, including Qatar. He said Qatar had been proven to fund terrorist organizations active in Egypt, and this has lead to a huge number of casualties.

Egypt is among a number of states, including Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, and the UAE, who have severed diplomatic and transport links with Qatar since 5 June 2017, accusing the oil-rich state of supporting terrorism and meddling in internal affairs. This resulted in one of the worst diplomatic disputes in the region in years. Qatar continues to deny the charges levelled against it.

Abou Seada added that EOHR keeps calling for a commitment to human rights and maintaining the sovereignty of state, as well as fair and just trials - even if defendants are charged with terrorism-related offenses.

Last week, an Egyptian court sentenced 75 people to death earlier this week, including prominent leaders of the now-banned Muslim Brotherhood group, in a mass trial over 2013's dispersal at Rabaa' Square.

Commenting on the recent death penalty sentences, he clarified that the defendants still have the right to challenge the sentences handed by court. The sentences received heavy international criticism, and were denounced by the European Union; a condemnation which was described by Egypt as "subjective" and failing to respect the rule of law.

EOHR's Secretary-General Essam Shiha said that according to a report by the Australian Institute for Economics and Peace, Egypt was ranked 11th place in the international terrorism index in 2017.

Furthermore, the report outlined that terrorist attacks had risen in Egypt in 2016 and 2017, a nine-fold increase as compared to previous years.

He added that the number of terrorism victims had reached more than 1500 people, particularly as a result of attacks by local terrorist groups Hasm and Ansar Beit El-Maqdis.

He said that the international community should simply stop countries from supporting terrorist organizations, as it is a more effective way to combat terrorism.

Salah Salam, a member of the National Council of Human Rights, said terrorism in Sinai did not only target Egyptian Copts, but was also aimed at public figures and people cooperating with the armed forces.

According to Salam, victims of terrorist attacks in Sinai had reached 850 civilians; around 315 people were killed in a major attack which targeted worshippers in a mosque in North Sinai in November 2017.  

He said that despite challenges to undermine Egypt's economy and infrastructure, the country still ranked well in major economic indicators based on reports by companies such as Moodys and Standards & Poors, as well as Egypt's position as a growing hub for gas export and production.

Alaa Shalaby, Secretary General of the Arab Organisation for Human Rights (AOHR), said that revolutions across the Arab World had started out as peaceful, however the arming of several revolutions lead a collapse of states and propelled an emergence of terrorism.


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