Egypt’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs has rejected what it considered fallacies and exaggerations included in the US report on human rights practises in Egypt in 2014.
The ministry mentioned “positive signals” in the report released by the US Department of State Thursday, with references to the presidential elections and the constitutional referendum. However, the ministry added that the report did not give enough room to demonstrating the Egyptian government’s efforts to develop the human rights status, labour conditions, the status of women, and fighting corruption, according to a ministry statement.
On Thursday, US Secretary of State John Kerry submitted the 39th annual Country Reports on Human Rights Practices, governmental reports mandated by Congress. It highlighted that 2014 “will be remembered as much for atrocities committed by non-state actors”, referring to the atrocities conducted by the Islamists militants in the Middle East, most notably the self-proclaimed “Islamic State”.
The report on Egypt marked “excessive use of force by security forces, including unlawful killings and torture; the suppression of civil liberties, including societal and government restrictions on freedoms of expression and the press and the freedom of peaceful assembly and association; and limitations on due process in trials”, as the most significant human rights concerns in the country.
The report also attributed to findings from local and international human rights organisations, the security forces’ killing demonstrators and police torturing suspects in police stations.
However, member of the semi-governmental National Council for Human Rights (NCHR) Salah Sallam told Daily News Egypt that, although there are some things that they agree on, “there is some exaggeration”.
The US report described the protest law as restrictive, with Sallam adding that “we demanded the protest law to be amended”. Law 107/2013, better known as the controversial protest law, was issued by interim president Adly Mansour. Since its enactment, the law has been heavily criticised by human rights groups for violating the constitutional right to freedom of assembly and expression.
Political parties piled pressure on the government over the law. Eight parties presented earlier month an official demand to the Supreme Constitutional Court (SCC) to revise the law.
Sallam said that in a meeting with President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi last week, the president acknowledged that he is convinced there are innocents in prison, and promised to issue pardons for more prisoners.
On the status of detention facilities, Sallam said that there is “notable improvement” in some prisons while others need increase in their budget to help develop its quality.
“As for police stations, violations still exist,” he said. The NCHR is the only organisation permitted to conduct visits to prisons and detention facilities to check on their conditions. Sallam said that the council spotted 36 deaths in police stations in 2014, adding that rights organisations give estimates of over 80 cases.
The report also mentioned the use of mass trials “in which evidence was not presented on an individual basis.” The Foreign Ministry rejected the use of the term “mass trials”, while Sallam believes that “we need to take a stand against the mass trials”.
Sallam explained that the use of mass trials deprive defendants of the basic guarantees of fair trials, asserting that the council demanded insertion of such guarantees.