Egypt

Following the adoption of the draconian associations law in Egypt, six Political parties and 22 civil society organizations issued a joint statement to condemn and reject the proposed law. The groups noted that the new law effectively eradicates civil society and defers its administration to the government and security apparatus. They condemned parliament’s treatment of civil society as an enemy to be defeated through secret laws. In the statement, they reiterated that the state has already taken real steps to eliminate Egyptian civil society organizations by prosecuting case no. 173/2011 on foreign funding, and several organizations and their current and former directors have been banned from travel and have had their assets frozen. This new law, however, would pave the way for the eradication of any sort of civic action geared to development, charitable activities, and services. The operation of local development associations throughout Egyptian villages and hamlets, which provide services to local residents, will become nearly impossible.

Constitutional Assembly
(Photo: ANHRI)

The defining feature of the framework for Egypt's national sustainable developmental strategy is the lack of a detailed roadmap to achieve several key goals, especially reducing poverty and unemployment and tackling the informal sector, for which it also lacks indicators. This is in addition to the lack of clarity in implementation mechanisms and the lack of consistency among the goals, despite the overarching strategy. The indicators used to measure the goals reflect the Government's continuation of the neoliberal approach, which is contingent on the development of the private sector and dependent on it to finance the development goals. Thus, for example, to reduce the deficit, the strategy does not include raising taxes on companies, instead opting to tax consumers, such as with the 10 percent value added tax (VAT). In addition, the strategy differs in important ways from previous development strategies, none of which were discussed in Parliament or through any sort of social dialogue.

The defining feature of the framework for Egypt’s national sustainable developmental strategy is the lack of a detailed roadmap to achieve several key goals, especially reducing poverty and unemployment and tackling the informal sector, for which it also lacks indicators. This is in addition to the lack of clarity in implementation mechanisms and the lack of consistency among the goals, despite the overarching strategy. The indicators used to measure the goals reflect the Government’s continuation of the neoliberal approach, which is contingent on the development of the private sector and dependent on it to finance the development goals. Thus, for example, to reduce the deficit, the strategy does not include raising taxes on companies, instead opting to tax consumers, such as with the 10 percent value added tax (VAT). In addition, the strategy differs in important ways from previous development strategies, none of which were discussed in Parliament or through any sort of social dialogue. This report examines key economic, social and environmental dimensions of the implementation framework and includes recommendations for needed changes if it is to be successful.

The arbitrary detention of Hossam Bahgat, (the founder of the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights, an  independent  Egyptian  human  rights  organization  and  a  journalist at Mada Masr, an online news site), on November 9th, 2015 is a mere reflection of the crackdown on civil rights in Egypt and the grim truth about the restricted enjoyment of the ‘’freedom’’ of expression and opinion in the country, that is essentially guaranteed by the Egyptian Constitution Article 651 and Article 19th of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, that Egypt is party to.

The peoples’ uprisings in the Arab region presented a golden occasion for revisiting the European Neighborhood Policy (ENP) and particularly the partnership between the Arab countries and the European Union (EU).  The Joint Communication of the High Representative and European Commission, “A New Response to a Changing Neighborhood, ” highlighted important lessons learnt but remained an exercise of self-assessment without the engagement of EU partners and relevant stakeholders (including civil society) for what are widely considered today as major historical changes in the Arab countries.

For the fourth successive year, a delegation of human rights and development civil society organizations from the Arab region will be visiting the European institutions in Brussels between the 8th and the 12th  of December 2014. The Arab delegation includes civil society representatives from Egypt, Jordan, Palestine, Morocco, Syria, Tunisia and Lebanon.

This visit seeks to provide a platform for dialogue and exchange between civil society organizations from the Arab region and European policy makers at the Parliament and Commission around the EU’s support and involvement in the region.

Serious developments regarding the violations of rights in Egypt are becoming more evident, as the Ministry of Social Solidarity proposes a new law, which would constitute a dangerous escalation in the framework of systematic targeting of civil society activists and the increasing restrictions imposed upon them.

On 26 June 2014, the Egyptian ministry in charge of regulating civil society organization proposed a new draft law, causing shockwaves among civil society organizations (CSOs) in the country. For six months, they had carried out negotiations with former Social Solidarity Minister Dr. Ahmed el-Boraei, which led to a proposed law to be presented to forthcoming parliament soon after the elections.

The undersigned organizations condemn the security forces storming of the Egyptian Center for Economic and Social Rights, Alexandria Branch, and note that such attack is an expected escalation, amidst the growing incitement in the media, and defamation campaigns, which have been targeting human rights organizations and human rights defenders in Egypt.

Egyptian security forces, alongside security personnel dressed in civilian attire, raided the Alexandria Branch of The Egyptian Center for Economic and Social Rights, arresting 15, including two minors, and two ECESR staff, and confiscating several computers and documents. The arrested were taken to the Alexandria Security Department where they were held, until released hours later.

Demonstration in Cairo.
(Photo: EACPE)

On December 19th, 2013 dawn in Cairo had witnessed an abusive raid against the headquarters of "the Egyptian Center for Economic and Social Rights" by the Egyptian police. The assaulters have kidnapped a photographer and two volunteers, tampered with the contents of the center, and seized some computers and documents. The kidnapped were taken to an unknown location. Up until the late hours of morning, the Egyptian center's lawyers were still searching for the kidnapped to commence the necessary legal procedures for their release.

The volunteers were preparing for a press conference called for by the Centre, to defend the rights of the workers of the “Iron and Steel Company” in Helwan,  the “Swedish Cables” in Giza,”Santamora of blankets Tenth of Ramadan”   and the Egyptian General Company for Tourism and Hotels" EGOTH "Shepherd”.

As Egypt’s political crisis continues, its government will be asked to account to the United Nations for what has been done to address the social injustices which fuelled the revolution.

On November 14, Egypt will appear before the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights in Geneva, where it will be required to demonstrate how it has taken into account its human rights obligations as a party to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights in navigating the country´s turbulent transition. This will mark the first time that Egypt has come before a UN human rights treaty body since the 2011 revolution.

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