The Ministry of Legal and Parliamentary Affairs has finished drafting a bill for the revision of the semi-government-run National Council for Human Rights (NCHR), and will be submitting the draft to parliament by the end of the month, according to the Minister of Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Magdy El-Agaty.
The bill stipulates that the council will be composed of a president, vice president, and 25 members who will be chosen every four years by the parliament based on their expertise in the field of human rights.
The bill is expected to be approved by the end of the year. The law is still under review to ensure it is worded in accordance to the Egyptian Constitution.
NCHR is an Egyptian human rights organisation affiliated to the government and established in 2003 in order to maintain human rights standards. The council has made several visits to prisons in order to investigate claims of prisoner abuse lodged by the families of prisoners.
El-Agaty rejected the notion that the NCHR should be allowed to visit prisons without prior permission from prosecution or security officials, saying that the prisons are penal institutions working under the supervision of the general prosecution.
NCHR member Hafez Abu Saada commented on this saying that it contradicts with the independency of the council. He also added that there are other aspects of the bill that compromises the council’s independency, such as requiring reviews of the council’s budget.
The NCHR has in the past agreed with official statements made by security forces, that claim there are no violations occurring in prisons and that the health of the prisoners are stable. The NCHR has faced criticism for their performance.
The council has, however, actively documented several violations related to political incidents, particularly in the 2015 parliamentary elections.
El-Agaty also said that amendments are being drafted for the National Council for Women’s Rights.