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CFJ welcomes the decision to postpone the Global Alliance of National Human Rights Institutions’ adoption of the Egyptian National Council for Human Rights and calls for downgrading its rating

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The Committee for Justice stated that the decision of the Sub-Committee on Accreditation, affiliated with the Global Alliance of National Human Rights Institutions, to postpone consideration of the request of the Egyptian National Council for Human Rights to reaccredit it as a first-class institution for 12 months (two sessions) is a welcome step. This came as a result of the Committee for Justice’s efforts to reveal the true nature of the council’s work and its role in covering up violations by the Egyptian authorities.

 

The Committee for Justice, in collaboration with the MENA Human Rights Group and the Human Rights Foundation, presented an extensive situational report to the Sub-Committee on Accreditation regarding the status of the Egyptian National Council for Human Rights amidst the evolving human rights and legal context in Egypt under President El-Sisi’s tenure, a period marked by unparalleled repression of human rights. This submission aimed to elucidate the situation for the Sub-Committee on Accreditation and aid them in reaching a well-informed decision.

 

Call for Effective Engagement with International Organizations:

The Sub-Committee on Accreditation of the Global Alliance of National Human Rights Institutions based its decision to postpone the accreditation of the Egyptian National Council for Human Rights on several points raised by the Committee for Justice’s report. The sub-committee called on the council to actively engage with the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and other human rights organizations at international, regional, and national levels to continue enhancing its institutional framework and working methods.

The report submitted by the Committee for Justice raised similar concerns, particularly about Article 3(8) of Law No. 197/2017, which mandates the council’s cooperation and coordination with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The report emphasized that “coordination with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs could lead to the council aligning with the foreign ministry’s policies, considering it a part of the executive authority.”

 

Addressing Human Rights Violations:

The Sub-Committee on Accreditation also called on the Egyptian National Council for Human Rights to address human rights violations, expressing concerns about the council’s effectiveness in dealing with serious human rights violations, including torture, enforced disappearance, detention conditions, its stance on human rights defenders, and more. The Sub-Committee encouraged the council to enhance its efforts in raising public awareness of its role in protecting human rights and addressing all human rights violations.

The Committee for Justice’s report also pointed out that the council was not an effective or independent means to redress victims of human rights violations, noting that the council had not published any annual reports since 2020, despite such publications being essential to its effective and independent functioning. The report also stated that the council did not acknowledge torture as a widespread practice by the Egyptian authorities, instead portraying such cases as isolated incidents. This was confirmed by the council’s comments in Egypt’s recent Universal Periodic Review, revealing its lack of neutrality towards the Egyptian authorities.

 

Visits to Detention Facilities:

The Sub-Committee on Accreditation voiced apprehensions over the absence of assurances for the independence and efficacy of the Egyptian National Council for Human Rights. This concern was particularly highlighted in relation to visits to detention facilities, which frequently face denials or are pre-scheduled. The Committee for Justice suggested that the council should be legally empowered to carry out surprise inspections of all detention centers, a recommendation that remains unimplemented.

 

Independence of the Council in Composition and Decision-Making:

The Sub-Committee on Accreditation also noted that the Egyptian National Council for Human Rights includes political representatives and members of political parties, raising questions about its independence. It called for continued efforts to find legislative amendments that provide independence in the council’s composition and decision-making, and protect it from criminal and civil liability for actions and decisions made in good faith.

 

Welcoming the Decision Amid Serious Concerns:

The Committee for Justice considers the step taken by the Sub-Committee on Accreditation of the Global Alliance of National Human Rights Institutions to be in the right direction, but at the same time expresses serious concerns that this step might be just a rescue attempt or a lifeline to save the Egyptian National Council for Human Rights from its predicament. Furthermore, the Committee for Justice underscores that the Egyptian National Council for Human Rights fails to adhere to the Paris Principles and Standards set by the Global Alliance of National Human Rights Institutions for evaluating national human rights bodies. Consequently, it argues that the council does not merit classification in the top tier, contrary to its aspirations for reaccreditation, and advocates for its demotion to a “B” status.

 

 

Previous Accreditation with Significant Remarks:

 

The Egyptian National Council for Human Rights, established in May 2003 under Law No. 94/2003 and later amended by Law No. 197/2017 on August 1, 2017, consists of 27 members, including 25 regular members, a president, and a vice-president. The council is composed of seven specialized committees in various human rights areas, such as the Civil and Political Rights Committee and the Cultural Rights Committee, along with six thematic units like the Legal Affairs Unit, Disability Affairs Unit, and Human Trafficking Unit.

 

In October 2006, the Sub-Committee on Accreditation (SCA) of the Global Alliance of National Human Rights Institutions (GANHRI) granted the Egyptian National Council for Human Rights a “Category A” status. The council was reviewed again in May 2018 and was once again accorded “Category A” status.

 

In the last two reports by the SCA on the Egyptian National Council for Human Rights, the committee directed observations to the council for addressing, but it appears there was no response from the council, leading the SCA to postpone its decision on accrediting the Egyptian National Council for Human Rights for 12 months.

 

Among the observations made by the committee was the concern that the current selection process stipulated in the legislation is not sufficiently broad or transparent. According to the 2017 amendments, the House of Representatives has the right to choose the council’s members. However, the latest elections for the council were neither free nor fair, marred by widespread arrests and intimidation of individuals who criticized the process, low voter turnout, allegations of election fraud and vote buying, and significant interference by security forces. As a result, lists loyal to the regime, led by the Future of a Homeland party, won the parliamentary majority. Consequently, the House of Representatives is effectively under the control of the executive authority. Therefore, the members of the Egyptian National Council for Human Rights are chosen by the executive authority.

For more information and media requests or inquiries, please get in touch with us (+41229403538 / media@cfjustice.org)

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