By Sarah Daoud
CAIRO: In a recent meeting, United Nations Human Rights Council Chief Navi Pallay criticized Egypt, among other big power nations for various human rights violations.
These countries included Russia for the killing of journalists and the United States for its anti-terrorism measures. Pallay also condemned Egypt, Libya and Syria for their harassment of civil rights activists.
“Civil society groups have been hit by measures restricting their action in many states including Bahrain, Belarus, China, Egypt, Libya, Panama, Syria and Tunisia,” Pillay was commented as saying.
Recently, Egypt has seen its fair share of human rights activity.
“The atmosphere for human rights groups in Egypt is very difficult with a lot of restrictions put on by the government,” states Alaa Shalaby, director and member of the board of trustees of the Arab Organization for Human Rights in Cairo.
Shalaby mentioned difficulty in getting licensed by the government as well as securing funds locally and instead having to secure funds from international sources.
There have been numerous protests and sit-ins staged as well as various court cases for different issues.
Notably, there have been protests in result to the brutal murder of Alexandrian Khaled Saeid by two policemen as well as the renewal of the emergency law.
Numerous activists have been assaulted by police as well being imprisoned and fined.
Shalaby said human rights groups work around the clock to try to help the different issues occurring with hope for a better future.
Russia and China declined to make a direct response to the allegations, but others, including Arab states, defended that human rights was a top priority for them and ordered more focus on Israel and the treatment of Palestinians.
Cuba responded to the accusations by saying that her accusations showed an increasing affinity to target “southern countries with unfair and unsubstantiated accusations.”
However, Shalaby said that “It is unfair to group Egypt with those other countries because the situation here is different than theirs.”
Developing nations forming a bloc in the body have fended off criticism of countries like Iran and Sudan, while condemning Israel for its treatment of Palestinians.
The Council had ordered the delivery of two reports on Israeli actions during the current session.
Pillay also criticized Islamist group Hamas, saying the “the de facto authorities” there had shut down civil society organizations.