The Egyptian authorities impede freedom of association: an organisation prevented from participating in a UN meeting
|Publisher||International Federation for Human Rights|
|Publication Date||13 June 2008|
|Cite as||International Federation for Human Rights, The Egyptian authorities impede freedom of association: an organisation prevented from participating in a UN meeting, 13 June 2008, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4858e5b49.html [accessed 22 May 2013]|
|Disclaimer||This is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.|
Friday 13 June 2008
Copenhagen-Geneva-Paris, 13 June 2008. The Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Network (EMHRN) and the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a joint programme of the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) and the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), jointly condemn the Egyptian Government's decision to prevent the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR) from participating in the UN General Assembly High Level Meeting (HLM) on HIV and AIDS, which was held in New York on 10 and 11 June 2008.
Indeed, the EIPR was included in the list introduced by the President of the General Assembly to participate in the UNGASS meeting on AIDS but faced a veto from the Egyptian authorities, which requested that this organisation be removed from the list of civil society representatives to be invited for the meeting.
The EIPR had participated in the UN General Assembly Special Session (UNGASS) on AIDS in 2006, and had registered itself to attend the June 2008 meeting. However, according to paragraph 8 of the General Assembly 62/178 resolution on the logistical matters related to this meeting, the list of relevant civil society representatives was to be submitted by the President of the General Assembly to "member States for consideration on a no-objection basis for a final decision by the Assembly on participation in the high-level meeting, including panel discussions".
The EIPR has been active in protecting the human rights of people living with HIV, and while actively participating in a roundtable during the 2006 UNGASS review, it closely monitored the Egyptian delegation's positions during the negotiations of the political statement. The EIPR then issued a press release blaming Egypt for undermining the negotiations as well as an open letter to the Egyptian Ministers of Health and Foreign Affairs detailing Egypt's positions during the negotiations on issues such as targets, vulnerable groups and discrimination against women. In addition, the EIPR documented and challenged recent arrests of men based on their actual or presumed HIV status under "debauchery" charges. A representative of the EIPR recently delivered an oral statement about these arrests at the session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva in March 2008.
The EMHRN and the Observatory consider the objection expressed by the Government of Egypt with regards to the participation of the EIPR in the UN General Assembly High Level Meeting on HIV and AIDS as preventing a civil society organisation from executing its mandate to work towards the protection and promotion of human rights and express its concerns at an international forum. The EHMRN and the Observatory are worried that this presents a threat to the freedom of association of the EIPR.
Therefore, the EMHRN and the Observatory call upon the Egyptian authorities to:
- respect the EIPR's freedom of association and to allow it to implement its activities and express its opinion freely in national and international forums,
- ensure the respect of the human rights principles to everyone "without distinction of any kind, such as race, color, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status",
- put an end to any kind of harassment against all human rights defenders in Egypt,
- respect the provisions of the Declaration on Human Rights Defenders adopted by the UN General Assembly on December 9, 1998, in particular Article 1 which states that "everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, to promote and to strive for the protection and realization of human rights and fundamental freedoms at the national and international levels.