UN Human Rights council discusses Egypt

Dina Ezzat, Saturday 26 Feb 2011

New Deputy Prime Minister, Yehia El-Gamal is scheduled to fly Sunday to Geneva to head an official Egyptian delegation that will attend a "special event" to be held by the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) on Egypt

UN Human Rights council discusses Egypt
Yehia El-Gamal

The urgent meeting, scheduled for 1 March, was a compromise reached between the Egyptian government and the UNHRC to discuss the gross violations of human rights that occurred in Egypt during the 18 days of the 25 January Revolution – starting from the first anti-regime demonstration on 25 January up until 11 February, the day that former President Hosni Mubarak succumbed to the will of the people and resigned.

El-Gamal, a long-time critic of Mubarak and his regime on many fronts, including human rights, is not only expected to acknowledge all the violations committed by state police during the days of the demonstrations but to also review the set of measures that have been undertaken during the past two weeks to properly investigate the violations and reprimand the culprits.

The UN Higher Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, issued a statement strongly condemning the violations during the first week of the revolution. She has also been in touch with representatives of Egyptian and international human rights groups.

She is expected the special event the Commissioner is expected to ask for zero impunity for the perpetrators of the violations and for a better observation of human rights standards in Egypt.

"We are actually to move towards a better observation of human rights; this is one of the key results of the Revolution and this is what El-Gamal is expected to assert before the HRC," said an Egyptian official who asked for his name to be withheld.

Prior to the convocation of the "special event" on Egypt that comes with the opening of the spring session of the UNHRC a group of Egyptian and international human rights groups had sent a collective letter to the council arguing that "silence is no longer an option on the human rights violations in Egypt".

Signed by 32 organisations, the letter goes beyond the call for the condemnation of innocent and unarmed protestors during the days of the revolution to the demand of future guarantees of the Egyptian government of human rights and calls for "the immediate release of people arbitrarily detained during" the days of the revolution.

Meanwhile, a Geneva-based human rights source said that the assault on demonstrators at Tahrir Square yesterday (Friday) by military police is expected  to be raised in the discussion of the human rights situation in Egypt – despite an apology posted by the currently ruling Supreme Military Council.

"This is not the first time that we get reports of the violations committed by [military police] and those are disturbing reports," stated the source.

Egyptian diplomacy is trying hard to turn the side event from a day of condemnation of violations committed in Egypt under the rule of the regime of former President Mubarak to a day of renewed commitment to a better observation of human rights.

"Our message will be very simple: things have changed a great deal since 25 January and things will continue to change towards the better," said an official who is expected to join Al-Gamal in Geneva.

The same official added that the HRC will be told in a direct language that all those proven to have ordered and executed the attacks on demonstrators – which lead to the killing of over 350 and the injury of over 1500 – would be brought to justice "no matter how high up."


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