CAIRO: Egypt agreed to apply new programs for improving the status of education, health, women empowerment and child care and rights, after the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) adopted the country’s report on human rights last Friday.
Egypt will also offer more economic and social services to citizens, said Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs, Mufid Shehab, head of the Egyptian delegation in Geneva, in a statement by the National Democratic Party (NDP).
The UNHRC examined Egypt’s human rights record on Feb. 17 as part of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) mechanism under which the human rights records of UNHRC members are reviewed every four years.
Egypt has submitted a number of voluntary steps and initiatives to the chairman of the UNHRC, which are aimed at enhancing the status of human rights and basic freedoms.
This includes what the government called its determination to end the state of emergency as soon as possible and introduce legislations related to citizenship.
“These initiatives include reviewing all Egyptian laws related to human rights to ensure their conformity with international obligations, explained Shehab.
Egypt also said it will review the definition of torture to ensure its conformity with the United Nations Convention Against Torture, endorse a law regulating the building of places of worship as well as an anti-terrorism law, and promote a human rights culture and more coordination with civil society.
As Egypt’s National Council for Human Rights (NCHR) is starting a new term in June with new board members, Shehab finds it a great opportunity to meet with the council’s Secretary General, Boutros Boutros Ghali, in order to discuss “coordination, cooperation and dialogue.
He explained that this is the new approach the government is taking in the coming period especially since it has vowed before the UNHRC that there will be more cooperation and dialogue with the NCHR, civil society and non-governmental organizations.
Hossam Bahgat, director of Egyptian Initiative of Personal Rights finds this a positive step. “The government already invited the NGOs for exchanging views regarding the draft in September 2009. Then they met with us as a follow up after Feb. 17, and they promised another meeting after we return to Egypt, he said.
Shehab is writing an official memo to President Hosni Mubarak about the report which was credited by all UNHRC member states.
He has already briefed him via telephone right after the council meeting.
Shehab will also meet with Prime Minister Ahmed Nazif upon his return to Cairo to discuss the UNHRC meeting.
Shehab noted in the statement that the government will continue to protect human rights and implement the international standards.
“We urge the government to support all the reviews recommended by the HRC and to be transparent, said Bahgat.
“The implementation plan should be measurable and time bound, he said, adding that, “[failure] to hold the government accountable was due to the absence of a benchmark and time bound factor for monitoring. -Additional reporting by Omnia Al Desoukie.