The Ministry of Foreign Affairs reviewed the state of human rights in Egypt, in an official statement on Tuesday. The statement sheds light on some of the achievements of Egypt in the fields of children, women and inmates’ rights.
In February, “Egypt withdrew its reservation to an article in the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child that sets the minimum legal age for marriage at 18, aligning its international obligations to conform with changes that have already been made to domestic law”, the statement said.
Moreover, the ministry stated that in January Egypt amended its Child Law to lower the age when children can be raised by foster parents from two years to three months. This allows for the non-institutional support of orphans and other children in need from infancy.
There were several incidents that had led to criticism of Egypt’s handling of children’s rights. During the last year and a half, at least 1,000 minors have been detained in Egypt’s prisons, according to human rights group ‘Free the Children’. They claimed that children, as young as 11-years-old,have been randomly arrested during protests.
Addressing the rights of women, the statement read that “personnel from the Ministry of Interior participated in awareness-raising seminars organised by the National Council for Women regarding the rights of women and their protection”.
In 2013, a poll conducted by the Thomson Reuters Foundation listed Egypt as the worst country for women’s rights in the Arab world. The prevalence of sexual harassment, discriminatory laws and a rise in violence against women were among the reasons that placed Egypt at the bottom of the ranking.
A few days ago, Human Rights Watch determined that female genital mutilation was a deterrent to the advancement of women’s and children’s rights in Egypt. Despite the banning of this practice in 2008, there are claims that it is still performed due to social pressures.
The statement also addressed the advancement of human rights in prisons. It states that “396 inmates were granted pardons, and 369 cases of appeals were reviewed, pertaining to the transfer of inmates to other prisons to be closer to their families, and to requests of pardons”. Moreover, the Prisons Authority has ensured that inmates receive proper social care as well as vitalising sporting and cultural activities in prisons.
However, a total of 52 individuals have died inside detention centres across Cairo and Giza since January, according to the official Forensic Medicine Authority. A further 80 individuals have died whilst in detention across Egyptian cities between July 2013 and January 2014, according to WikiThawra, an independent observatory that documents fatalities in prisons.