The Egyptian Senate rejected on Saturday a joint statement issued by a number of members of the UN Human Rights Council (UNHCR) on human rights conditions in Egypt, calling it “non-transparent, non-objective, and superficial.”
The newly elected Senate slammed the statement for “completely falling short of transparency and objectivity, discussing the issues it referred to superficially and addressing allegations using elastic terms that have no foundation in reality.”
The Senate noted that the joint statement ignored Egypt’s efforts over recent years to advance human rights conditions in the country in accordance with international standards.
It added that the joint statement “shyly” hailed a recently passed Egyptian law regulating the work of civil society organisations in Egypt in a more favourable way.
The Egyptian state has not used anti-terrorism laws except against those who have actually committed terrorist crimes based on internationally agreed upon definitions, the Senate’s statement said on Saturday.
“No lawyer or journalist or human rights activist is being imprisoned unless they have committed a crime that justifies the procedures taken against them,” the statement read.
It added that any measures against defendants in Egypt are only taken through a “fair trial or honest investigations conducted by a judicial body that is wholly independent from the executive authority.”
“The Egyptian state has frequently challenged all parties that put forward claims of [the existence of violations] to prove any of what they claim,” the Senate said, adding that the joint statement did not mention any specific case that proves these claims.
The Senate said authorities were never found to have arrested or tried anyone over an opinion.
“The Senate, as part of the legislative authority, affirmed that the state guaranteed freedom for the media in law and action and it was not proven that a single person was arrested or tried for an opinion they expressed,” the statement read.
It also asserted that no media website operating legally has ever been blocked.
The Senate said that while it is appropriate for “friendly countries” to be interested in Egypt’s internal affairs, it cautioned against using this interest as a “pretext” to raise baseless allegations against the state.
“The Senate affirmed the right of friendly countries to be interested in Egyptian internal affairs due to the Egyptian state’s political weight at the international and regional levels and the role it plays to preserve the security and stability of the region,” the statement said.
“However, this interest should not be used as a pretext to raise allegations that are not based on facts, nor should it build on claims that contradict reality and turn to an interference in the internal affairs of an independent country in violation of the UN charter,” the statement added.
Various Egyptian official bodies, including the House of representatives, the State Information Service (SIS), the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and the Judges Club, have issued statements rejecting the report submitted at the UNHCR by Finland on behalf of 31 countries as an act of interference in the country’s internal affairs, which ignores the government's overall achievements in the human rights file and is based on unfounded allegations.