Egypt rejects European human rights criticism

Egypt rejects European human rights criticism
Cairo's permanent representative at the UN office in Geneva has rejected to EU criticism of the dire human rights situation in Egypt, describing the EU stance as "double standards".
2 min read
24 September, 2015
The 30th session of the United Nations Human Rights Council started earlier this month [AFP/Getty]

The permanent representative of Egypt to the United Nations Office at Geneva, Ambassador Amr Ramadan, has used the right of reply to respond to allegations and criticism made by European Union delegations during the 30th session of the United Nations Human Rights Council, taking place from 14 September to 2 October 2015 in Geneva.

Ramadan rejected the concerns expressed by four European delegations regarding the situation in Egypt, describing them as repeated statements that have already been made and contested in previous sessions.

Among those who expressed concerns about human rights violations in Egypt was the UK Mission in Geneva.

"We are concerned about detentions of civil society activists and journalists, and restrictions on human rights organisations," the UK Mission statement said on 14 Septmeber.

"Implementing Egypt's constitutional protections for the media and civil society is fundamental to long-term stability. It is vital that activists are released and human rights organisations can work freely."

"EU criticism reflects 'double standards"

- Amr Ramadan

Ramadan stressed that according to the Egyptian Constitution, the rule of law is the basis of governance in the state, and the independence of the judiciary is an important guarantee for the protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms.

He also added that the capital punishment stipulated in the Egyptian Penal Code only applies to serious crimes.

The ambassador also said that allegations about enforced disappearances were unsubstantiated, pointing out that Egypt's Mission in Geneva is cooperating with the competent working group in the Human Rights Council in order to clarify all complaints made against Egypt in this regard.

In response to allegations of pressure on Egypt's civil society, Ramadan said that the number of registered civil society organisations in Egypt has increased from 26,000 in 2010 to 47,300 last year.

In addition, Ramadan said it was ironic that the criticism came from countries with a record of human rights violations, such as racial discrimination, xenophobia, contempt or religion, torture and impunity, adding that their stances reflect "double standards".

On Wednesday, several journalists and political activists were released from prison among a group of 100 prisoners following a presidential pardon by Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.

The released prisoners included al-Jazeera journalists Mohamed Fahmy and Baher Mohamed, as well as activists Sana Seif and Yara Sallam.

The pardon came as Sisi prepared to visit the US this month to take part in the 70th United Nations General Assembly, which will be held at the UN headquarters in New York.