President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi (L) meets with President of the National Council for Human Rights (NCHR) Mohammed Fayek – Press photo President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi (L) meets with President of the National Council for Human Rights (NCHR) Mohammed Fayek – Press photo

Sisi, Fayek discuss human rights matters

Mon, Oct. 2, 2017
CAIRO – 2 October 2017: President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi met with President of the National Council for Human Rights (NCHR) Mohammed Fayek, who delivered a copy of the council's annual report for 2016/2017, which includes the main challenges that human rights face and proposals to address them.

President Sisi affirmed the council's key role in reinforcing the state's keenness on upholding and enhancing human rights in a comprehensive way, whereby the Egyptian government seeks to strike a balance between upholding rights and freedoms and achieving societal security and stability. He underlined his keenness to know the vision of the council regarding the conditions and status of human rights in Egypt and to examine its recommendations in this regard.

Fayek reviewed key items in the annual report and lauded the positive measures that have been taken, including issuing a presidential pardon for a number of citizens and youth who were convicted in various cases.

This is in addition to issuing legislation that enhances citizens' rights in various aspects, as well as adopting a plan for development and economic and social reform in which the state pays attention to the less privileged classes through various social protection programs.

Fayek affirmed that the state's efforts and the burdens it is shouldering as a result of fighting terrorism and protecting national security from dangers emanating from the tense regional situation have contributed positively to reinforce security and stability. "This has positively reflected on the status of human rights in the country, taking into consideration that conditions conducive to improving human rights cannot be created without a safe and stable society," said Fayek.

Fayek added that the period covered in the report noted that terrorism was responsible for the loss of a large number of victims, including civilians, police and armed forces.

The report also tackled a number of issues that should be improved in the coming period, such as prisoners' conditions and detention facilities. This is in addition to paying attention to the civil society's role.

Recommendations were also put forward in line with Egypt's international commitments in the field of human rights and in accordance with the Egyptian Constitution, including raising awareness of human rights and making it an integral part of the society's culture. This is in addition to further enhancing the citizens' economic and social conditions.

President Sisi affirmed that the state is determined to continue its efforts to enhance human rights and to ensure fundamental freedoms, in parallel with efforts to counter terrorism and extremism and to protect national security from various dangers that Egypt and the region are exposed to at the present time.

During the meeting, Fayek told Sisi that a group of parliament members have visited several police stations and cells to investigate the status of human rights and means of improving them. "Visits focused on police stations in densely populated districts in two governorates – Cairo and Giza – and the coming visits will include Alexandria and the Upper Egypt governorate of Assiut," said Fayek.

Visit results revealed, according to Fayek, that the performance of police officers, along with their respect of prisoners' human rights, are strictly respected in Egypt, as they are also monitored by the Parliament, as well as independent human rights groups and civil society organizations.

Fayek revealed to the president that a delegation of the NCHR, along with MPs and members of independent human rights organizations, will visit a number of western cities in the United States and Europe within the coming two months. "The visits aim at meeting officials there to give them a detailed response to a recent report in which the New York-based Human Rights Watch alleged that torture has become a systematic practice in Egypt," added Fayek.

The delegation is scheduled to meet with the European Union Parliament’s Human Rights Committee, the Inter-Parliamentary Union, and human rights committees in parliaments in Italy, Germany and England.

Fayek also explained that the NCHR has already filed a complaint against Human Rights Watch (HRW) with the Geneva-based Inter-Parliamentary Union.

Khaled Shaaban, a leftist opposition member, blamed the delegation for conducting such supervisory visits to police stations and cells only after HRW's report was issued. "These Western reports are always politicized and do not reflect reality. I believe there should be regular supervisory visits to police stations and prisons so as to be ready to immediately respond to any of HRW's allegations," said Shaaban, while maintaining that "the government should be more cooperative with local human rights organizations in responding to HRW reports."

On her turn, Nehad Abul Qomsan, a human rights activist, pointed out, "A human rights ministry should be initiated so as to coordinate with all human rights entities in Egypt to respond to all reports issued by Western human rights organizations such as Amnesty International and HRW."
 
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