Human rights meeting with Egypt

Chairwoman Hautala held on 24.2 an open meeting with the Ambassador Wael Aboul Magd, Deputy Assistant Minister of Foreign Affairs for Human Rights of Egypt. [:]

Meeting was called upon request of the Embassy of Egypt to discuss human rights situation in the country. On 21.1.2010 the European Parliament adopted a resolution condemning attacks on religious minorities in Egypt. Freedom of religion was discussed in detail  and without doubting the seriousness of the mentioned attacks against these minorities, Chairwoman noted that the European Parliament would pay greater attention to condemn attacks against all religious groups without singling out any particular religion. Ambassador thanked Ms Hautala for this notion.

On 22.1. Chairwoman Hautala wrote a letter to the Ambassador of Egypt expressing her concern over the arbitrary detentions of thirty three human rights defenders on 15 January 2010 in Qena in Egypt. Ambassador assured Chaorwoman Hautala that the human rights defenders in question had not been ill-treated and that they had been arrested as they had no authorisation for demonstration. Despite these pledges and information, Ms Hautala cautioned against heavy handed policies directed at human rights activists and civil society representatives.

In the meeting, work of  National Council on Human Rights and Councils on women issues and childhood questions attracted great interest.  Ambassador  also informed  the attendees that there are plans to abrogate the state of emergency as soon as possible. The authorities hope to replace this with modern anti-terrorism laws corresponding to those of US and UK laws. Chairwoman stressed that the powers guaranteed by such anti-terrorism laws must be balanced against fundamental human rights. Concerning the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) in the UN Human Rights Council, which Egypt underwent recently, Ambassador stated that they voluntarily pledged to follow up the recommendations with civil society.

Ambassador Magd stressed that Egypt wishes to interact openly and constructively on these any other human rights issues with the European Parliament also in the future . Chairwoman Hautala  stated that she remains grateful for the initiative to arrange an open meeting with the Embassy of Egypt and looks forward to continuing constructive dialogue and close cooperation with the representatives.