Egypt defends its human rights position


Egypt’s United Nations envoy criticised UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein’s remarks on systemic violence in the country, saying they reflected “flawed logic”, according to state news agency MENA.

Ambassador Amr Ramadan was quoted as saying he had cautioned Zeid against his office becoming a “mouthpiece for paid agencies with political and economic agendas,” and he rejected his accusations without elaborating.

At a UN Human Rights Council meeting in Geneva on Monday, Hussein said the state of emergency declared by the Egyptian government last April was used to justify “systemic silencing of civil society.”

He cited reports of waves of arrests, arbitrary detention, black-listing, travel bans, asset freezes, intimidation and other reprisals against human rights defenders, journalists, political dissidents and those affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood group.

Last week Egypt came under fire from Human Rights Watch, which said in a report there was systemic torture in the country’s jails, leading Cairo to block access to HRW’s website.

Egypt’s human rights parliamentary committee, critical of the report, developed an action plan in response, state media reported on Tuesday.

The plan reportedly includes meeting foreign diplomats in Egypt and outside the country to explain its efforts to defend human rights.