Egypt parliament speaker condemns UN special rapporteur on housing after criticisms

MENA , Ahram Online , Monday 10 Dec 2018

Ali Abdel Aal
The speaker of Egypt's parliament Ali Abdel-Aal (Reuters)

Egypt's Parliament Speaker Ali Abdel-Aal slammed on Sunday a press release issued by the United Nations special rapporteur on adequate housing, Leilani Farha, on Egypt’s housing policies.

During a plenary parliamentary session, Abdel-Aal called on the secretary-general of the United Nations to take all required measures against Farha as he said she had “violated the UN charter” and had not committed to the principles of international law.

Farha’s stance was prejudiced and she used her position as a UN official to serve personal motives, Abdel-Aal said.

The independent rights expert had said in a Tuesday press release that she was "shocked" to learn that after her visit to Egypt in September and October a number of the people she spoke to were forcibly evicted, arrested, or had their homes demolished.

Farha had also said that “unless Egypt ensures that human rights defenders and victims of human rights violations can interact with UN human rights envoys without fear of reprisal, it is in our view not ready to host further visits.”

The parliament speaker urged the Egyptian foreign ministry to file a complaint with the United Nations Human Rights Council.

On Thursday the ministry strongly decried the press release issued by the special rapporteur, accusing the UN expert of having ulterior motives and taking human rights and fundamental freedoms as cover, especially as she deliberately ignored talking about any positive side in the country's housing policies.

The ministry said in a press statement that Farha also failed to provide any evidence supporting her claims and turned a blind eye to the government's unprecedented accomplishments in providing appropriate housing units to citizens.

The ministry said that in her statement, the UN official did not talk about the government's plan to set up 600,000 social housing units, of which 300,000 were already set up in record time, to meet the needs of limited-income people.

She failed to mention the development underway of 46 unsafe slums inside and outside Cairo, the ministry added.

The UN official's statement, which lacks credibility, requires the UN Human Rights Council to take deterrent measures towards officials trading on their positions, the ministry said.

The ministry also condemned her threat that special rapporteurs will not pay further visits to Egypt unless it took serious steps in the housing domain, saying the Egyptian government will not leave this matter unanswered and will take necessary measures to guarantee that this special rapporteur is blamed for her unprofessional and irresponsible behaviour.

Special rapporteurs are independent human rights experts that examine and report on thematic rights issues and country situations for the United Nations.  


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