No citizen should be punished for expressing dissenting non-violent views: NHCR president

Ahram Online , Sunday 3 Sep 2023

President of the National Council for Human Rights (NHCR) Moushira Khattab affirmed that no citizen should be "deprived of his right to freedom" for expressing dissenting non-violent views.

human rights report
Press conference of the National Council for Human Rights (NHCR) held on Sunday to launch its 16th annual report for 2020-2023 on the human rights situation in Egypt.

Khattab made the remarks on Sunday in a press conference to announce the release of the council's 16th annual report for 2020-2023 on the human rights situation in Egypt. 

"We hope that in the spirit of President El-Sisi's call for the [National] Dialogue], no citizen is deprived of their right to freely express a dissenting viewpoint without inciting violence, hatred or sabotage," Khattab said during the press conference.

The human rights report covers the period from 1 December 2020 until 30 May 2023; it sheds light on the improvements in human rights legislation and in political, civilian, economic, social and cultural rights in Egypt.

The report also discusses the challenges facing improving human rights in Egypt.  

Pardons, releases

The council received a total of 9,521 complaints related to human rights, including 5,067 requests to include inmates in presidential pardon and release lists.

In the report, the NCHR called for a specific timeframe for completing the review of the detainees' files and for releasing those eligible for release. 

The council also stressed the need to expedite the pace of presidential pardon decisions and consider all pretrial detainees and those convicted in non-violent cases.

Egypt has released hundreds of pretrial detainees since the call for the dialogue in April 2022, and President El-Sisi pardoned several renowned political activists.

Legislative reforms, political rights

"Human rights are fundamentally measured by their enforcement on the ground and not by their presence in legislation and laws,” Khattab said during the press conference.

Therefore, the council called for substantial reforms and changes in the penal system, including adopting alternative punishments instead of penalties that deprive individuals of their freedom.

The NHCR attaches great importance to political and civil rights,” Khattab said.

The council seeks to raise awareness of the value of these rights because they are closely linked to the citizens, she said, adding that the state has committed to enforcing these rights indiscriminately.

The NCHR also called for reviewing the timeframe of the National Dialogue to ensure that it issues specific and applicable recommendations that can be turned into policies.

These policies should then be integrated into the state's legislative agenda, public policies and relevant practices, the NCHR said, highlighting the need for a mechanism to monitor and assess the implementation of these policies.

Improving detention conditions

In its report, the NCHR urged the authorities to continue developing the detention centres affiliated with police stations and security directorates, reserved for inmates serving short-term sentences.

Furthermore, the report stressed the importance of continuously training police personnel in correctional and rehabilitation centres to ensure they adhere to practices responsive to human rights and renounce any violations.

"In visiting rehabilitation centres, the NHCR seeks to exercise the legal powers granted to it by the law,” Khattab said, stressing that as a national body, the council’s measures are implemented in collaboration with the state.

The council also urged the Ministry of Interior to complete its ongoing plan for developing penal institutions within a "reasonable" timeframe.

Finally, the council called on the relevant authorities to consider the health condition of the family members visiting their detained relatives, especially those who suffer from chronic diseases.

Short link: