On November 5, the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) into Egyptian human rights held its assessment of the circumstances on the ground over the past four years. The UPR is a new mechanism of the UN Human Rights Council aimed at improving the human rights situation in each of the 193 UN member states.
US representative to the Human Rights Council (UNHCR), Ambassador Keith Harper, delivered his delegation’s recommendations saying new legislation in Egypt “restricts freedoms of assembly, association and expression”.
In his statement, the ambassador drew attention to widely opposed new laws including those limiting the right to protest, the “Demonstrations Law”. The US recommended to the UPR that Egypt’s government also stop any “excessive use of force by security forces”.
Following the review, Amnesty International said Egypt’s human rights record “lay in tatters”.
Meanwhile, the Egyptian government confirmed its November 10 deadline for all civil society organisations to have registered with the authorities under a new law on “Associations”. The legislation gives government authorities powers over compulsorily registered civil society bodies, leading some Egyptian human rights organisations to register instead as law firms or not-for-profit companies.
Human Rights Watch described the situation in Egypt as “the most dramatic reversal of human rights in Egypt’s modern history” calling on the UNHCR to order an international investigation into mass arrests and suppression of protest and the media.
The Egyptian delegation in Geneva rejected criticism from UN member states.