In early March 2021, more than 30 States declared before the United Nations Human Rights Council that Egypt must stop resorting to counter-terrorism laws to suppress opponents, rights ‘s defenders, journalists and keeping prisoners of opinion in pre – trial detention indefinitely. The United States, which has observer status within the United Nations Human Rights Council, has joined to the 30 signatories of the Statement
Government organizations around the world called for the support and leadership of a United Nations monitoring and reporting mechanism about the human rights deterioration in Egypt, and this is days before the beginning of the 46th” ordinary meeting of the United Nations Human Rights Council.
In their joint statement, the organizations considered the establishment of a United Nations monitoring and reporting mechanism on the violations and crimes committed, as important step to provide remedies for survivors and victims’ families, to prevent further abuses, and to open pathways towards accountability.
In Egypt, there are more than 60 thousand prisoners of opinion according to NGOs. Egyptian security forces have consistently subjected these detainees to abusive treatment and torture. United Nations experts have warned that the catastrophic deteriorating conditions in Egyptian prisons have endangered the lives and health of detainees, forced concealment prisoners, peaceful activists, It was never revealed what happened to some of them.
The signatory States aimed to pressure the Egyptian authorities in order to apply the Civil Associations Act approved in 2019 and facilitate Organizations’ activities. The clear message of this action was that States are following Egypt’s commitment to international law and will not condone its violations. Egypt must take urgent action to release thousands of men and women in arbitrary detention and protect them, defend detainees from torture and other ill-treatment, and end the repression of peaceful activism.
Egypt Authority response
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al – Sisi also denied the existence of human rights violations in Egypt in a telephone intervention on Egyptian television program on September 11, He launched the “National Human Rights Strategy,” to develop State policies and approaches in dealing with the relevant files to promote respect for all civil, political, social, economic and cultural rights. All these changes occurred under the influence of international pressure and supportive human rights or It was remarkable that the Egyptian Ministry of Interior inaugurated the largest prison complex in Egypt in the Wadi al-Natrun region. The ministry stated that the prison is equipped with modern and comfortable means that guarantee the dignity of inmates, adding that the aim of its inauguration is to develop the punitive prison system in line with respect for international human rights laws.
These actions come a day after US State announced that President Joe Biden’s administration has imposed restrictions on funds to be sent to Egypt, including military aid, until Cairo takes specific steps related to human rights. A Foreign official said that the most prominent condition set by Biden administration for releasing the rest of the aid, is related to the termination of civil society‘s trial, the dropping of charges against them, and the release of 16 individuals identified by the United States in coordination with Egyptian Government.
It is well known that Egyptians have been living under a repressive government that has been strangling all forms of opposition and peaceful expression since 2011, but recent months have confirmed that collective action is possible, effective and material and moral pressure on States can lead to positive results based on this experience.