Thursday, June 06, 2013

Egypt: Egypt’s draft laws must conform to human rights standards – Ban

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe

UN - 5 June 2013 – Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today cited the need for Egypt to ensure that its draft laws conform to international human rights standards and respond to the aspirations of its people, as the country proceeds with its democratic transition.

“He stresses the critical importance of the rights to freedom of association and expression to the democratic process in the country and calls for dedicated efforts to secure their full enjoyment,” said a statement issued by the Secretary-General’s spokesperson.

Mr. Ban recalled the concerns expressed last month by UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay over the draft law on association, which she felt, if adopted, would impose a series of “draconian restrictions” on civil society organizations, especially those focused on human rights.

“It seems that there is a real risk that the current draft will not only make it difficult for civil society to operate freely and effectively, but may also conflict with Egypt’s obligations under international law to uphold the right to freedom of association,” Ms. Pillay had stated.

In today’s statement, Mr. Ban said that any new draft law on associations “should conform to international human rights standards, and respond to the aspirations of the people.”

In addition, he said the conviction and sentencing of a number of local and foreign employees of international non-governmental organizations is a sign of “an increasingly restrictive environment” for civil society in the country.

“The Secretary-General reaffirms the commitment of the United Nations to work alongside the Government and the people of Egypt in support of the country’s democratic transition, development and prosperity,” the statement added.

Egypt has been undergoing a democratic transition following the toppling of President Hosni Mubarak two years ago in the wake of mass protests similar to those seen in other parts of the Middle East and North Africa as part of the “Arab Spring.”