Human rights: Meeting the challenges

Doaa El-Bey , Tuesday 20 Sep 2022

Egypt has laid the groundwork to improve human rights according to two NGOs.

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“Steps Ahead”, a recent report by the Arab Network for Digital Media and Human Rights (ANDMHR), recommends amending laws and developing policies to enhance human rights, especially as they relate to the workplace and when it comes to combating terrorism and extremism.

Reviewing developments over a 12-month period, the report noted that Egypt has continued to work on establishing a legislative framework that boosts human rights in a way that meets international commitments while adhering to its cultural specificity.

The report hailed the release of many political prisoners who were granted presidential pardons, granting them a chance to reintegrate into society, and the transfer of detainees from older prisons to rehabilitation centres. It also highlighted that Egypt accepted 246 of the 300 recommendations presented made last year by the International Council for Human Rights.

The report also commended advances in economic and social rights in the wake of the Hayah Karima (Decent Life) initiative which aims to improve the living standards in Egyptian villages through sustainable development projects costing an estimated LE700 billion.

The report also drew attention to advances in the political representation of women, pointing out that 128 seats — more than 28 per cent —of parliamentary seats in the 2021 elections were allocated women and that a quarter of cabinet posts are occupied by female ministers.

“The previous 12 months have seen important developments and timely responses from the president to enhance human rights, moves that can be built upon, within the framework of partnership and extended dialogue between the state and civil society, to lay the groundwork for further advances,” said the report.

Maat for Peace, Development and Human Rights concurs that the groundwork has been laid to improve human rights in Egypt. Maat, a non-governmental, non-partisan Egyptian civil society organisation, stressed the role civil society organisations can play in openning channels of communication with the state, particularly when it comes to phrasing human rights legislation, organising awareness campaigns about human rights, preparing research papers on poverty, unemployment, and child labour, and following up on government efforts to meet its commitments.

In its report “The National Strategy for Human Rights: a year of efforts and challenges”, Maat drew attention to the need for mechanisms to effectively gauge the implementation of the strategy and its results and the importance of developing an executive action plan by the end of the second year of the strategy.

Other recommendations made in the report include developing consultative mechanisms between the government and involved parties, including civil society organisations and specialised national councils and reconsidering legislation regulating pretrial detention.

Egypt’s National Strategy for Human Rights was launched in September 2021 and it is envisaged to remain in place until 2026. It aims to improve civil and political rights; economic, social and cultural rights; the rights of marginalised groups and to build capacity across all issues involved in the human rights field.

The strategy was prepared by the Permanent Supreme Committee for Human Rights, chaired by the Foreign Ministry. The committee, which was established in 2018 by a cabinet decree, is an advisory board comprising 25 representatives of government agencies, councils, and other organisations with an interest in human rights.

In developing the strategy, the committee consulted with a wide range of groups, including the National Council for Human Rights, parliament’s Human Rights Committee, the academic and business communities, and civil society. It also studied the human right strategies of more than 30 countries.

The strategy is an attempt to codify rights and liberties in a single document, and allows for changes as and when they are needed. It is closely aligned with Egypt’s Vision 2030.


*A version of this article appears in print in the 15 September, 2022 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly.

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