The Committee for Justice stated that its participation in the events of the NGO Forum, held alongside the 77th session of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights ACHPR, which takes place between October 20 and November 9 in Arusha, Tanzania, is in line with its mission to raise awareness about human rights violations in Egypt and the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region and to assist the victims of such violations. CFJ noted that the forum’s timing coincides with significant political events in Egypt, especially the upcoming presidential elections scheduled for December 2023, which dominate the country’s events which directly affects Egypt’s civic space. Many political opponents and human rights defenders in Egypt are experiencing the presidential election atmosphere amidst restrictions on their right to run for elections and a curbing of their freedom of expression. Additionally, there are arrest campaigns against anyone expressing an opinion opposing the ruling authorities.
In light of these circumstances, CFJ participates in the NGO Forum to to shed light on the intense suppression facing civil society in Egypt and the broader MENA region. CFJ also addresses the challenges human rights defenders encounter in the region for their peaceful initiatives, efforts that are supported by international and UN conventions. Additionally, CFJ seeks to highlight the violations taking place within detention centers and prisons against those held within.”
CFJ aims through this participation for the forum to adopt recommendations that emphasize the importance and legitimacy of peaceful human rights work in Egypt and the MENA region. It also seeks the adoption of recommendations addressing the violations against human rights defenders in that geographical area and how to legally deal with them to assist these defenders.
In this regard, CFJ presented a draft resolution to the forum concerning the human rights situation in Egypt. It focuses on the primary responsibility and duty of the state to promote and protect human rights and fundamental freedoms in Egypt, while emphasizing the significant role individuals and civil society organizations in Egypt play in promoting and safeguarding human rights and basic freedoms. The draft resolution also expresses deep concern about the ongoing and escalating human rights violations faced by supporters of various presidential candidates, especially those linked to Ahmed Tantawi’s presidential campaign, and the obstacles imposed by Egyptian authorities to undermine the participation of some candidates in the presidential elections scheduled for December 2023. It also highlights the continued retaliation against independent human rights organizations and their defenders in Egypt, particularly those actively engaged with UN human rights mechanisms. There is an absence of substantial investigations into recent reports and allegations related to torture, as well as a lack of accountability for severe human rights violations and insufficient investigations into corruption allegations involving the military.
Furthermore, the draft resolution also expresses deep concerns about the ongoing closure of the Rafah border crossing by Egyptian authorities, which hinders the urgently needed humanitarian aid from reaching the Gaza Strip.
The resolution, presented by the “Committee for Justice” to the forum, advises the Egyptian authorities to cooperate with the international community, in line with their humanitarian obligations under international law, to immediately reopen public spaces, release those arbitrarily detained, including journalists, halt the suppression of the human rights movement, and permanently close case 173/2011.
Additionally, the resolution urges immediate actions to stop the use of torture, enforced disappearances, and the implementation of the death penalty in Egypt. It also encourages the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights to keep Egypt on its agenda and regularly review its human rights record.
The NGO Forum is a platform established and coordinated by the “African Center for Democracy and Human Rights Studies” to promote advocacy, leverage, and communication between NGOs concerned with human rights and other stakeholders to bolster and safeguard human rights in Africa.
The forum shares updates concerning human rights, democracy, and the rule of law in Africa from the African and international NGO community to identify responses and adopt strategies to improve the rights situation on the continent.