CAIRO: Egypt s official National Human Rights Council received more than 5,000 complaints from citizens during 2006, the state MENA news agency said Sunday. The complaints received by the council reached 5,826, these are the final figures, MENA said.
Outgoing council member Bahey Eddin Hassan told AFP that the watchdog was receiving serious complaints but lacked the power to take action.
A large part of the complaints are over the problems of arbitrary detention and the practice of torture, Hassan told AFP, complaining of a lack of political will of the state to reform. He expressed dissatisfaction with council s performance and said he would not be standing again for membership when its current three-year term expires on Thursday.
Members of the council, which is led by former UN secretary general Boutros Boutros Ghali, are appointed by the upper house of parliament, the Shura Council.
The watchdog was set up in 2003 to counter criticism by local and international human rights bodies which the government has accused of pursuing their own agendas.
But its annual reports have been repeatedly ignored by the government. In 2004 the government denied allegations of police abuse and in 2005 it gave no response to the council s findings at all.
If the council is not able to impact the government s decisions in the human rights field, the simple question is then about the wisdom of establishing such an institution, said Hassan, who also runs an independent group, the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies.
Egypt s often-criticized human rights situation has come under renewed focus with the emergence on the web of several crude videos taken by cell phone purporting to show torture in police stations.