Top News: UN Reviews Egypt’s Human Rights Record

Egypt’s human rights record came under fire on Wednesday during a United Nations meeting reviewing the country’s record for the first time since the 2011 ouster of longtime autocrat Hosni Mubarak.


New NGO law will be passed by Egypt’s next parliament, says FM official
Egypt’s Deputy Foreign Minister for Human Rights Hisham Badr said on Wednesday there is no final draft for a new NGOs law and that it will be postponed until a new parliament is elected. The statement made at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva comes amid condemnations from rights groups against a new NGO draft law and an amendment made to the penal code which they say will restrict their work in the country. [Ahram Online, 11/5/2014]

Also of Interest
Church won’t back any electoral list in elections, says Egypt’s pope | Ahram Online
Brotherhood reiterates opposition to reconciliation | DNE
Salafi Call slams Brotherhood for instigations against state | Egypt Independent


Court rejects medical release of hunger-striker Soltan; Forensics recommends sending Douma back to prison
A request to release detained hunger-striking Egyptian-American Mohamed Soltan due to his deteriorating health condition was rejected for the fourth time on Wednesday. Cairo Criminal court rejected the request filed by twelve rights groups, describing it as “a blatant intervention in the judiciary’s work.” The rights groups include the freedoms committee of the Doctors Syndicate, al-Nadeem Centre for Rehabilitation of Victims of Violence, The Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights and the Arab Network for Human Rights Information. Meanwhile, the tripartite forensic committee handed its report on activist Ahmed Douma’s medical status, Tuesday, to the prosecution general, recommending that he be sent back to prison. It is still unclear whether the committee’s recommendation will be implemented. [Ahram Online, Aswat Masriya, 11/5/2014]

Also of Interest
Suez lawyers to escalate strike if demands not met | DNE


Orascom Construction to build $2.5 billion coal-fired power station
Orascom Construction, part of OCI NV, announced Wednesday its intention to commence studies to construct and develop a coal-fired power plant in cooperation with UAE-based International Petroleum Investment Company. The total value of the project has been placed at approximately $2.5 billion to $3 billion. The company said that project’s timeframe will be four years, adding that it is expected to have a capacity of up to 2,000 MW to 3,000 MW. It will utilize clean-coal technology that complies with EU standards for emission control. [Ahram Online, DNE, Mada Masr, 11/5/2014]

Also of Interest
Egypt’s stocks slightly fall despite telecoms gains | Ahram Online
Transportation ministry to build four new ports for major projects | DNE
EBRD provides $30m to NBE for small business development | DNE
Egyptian consumer confidence inches up during Q3 2014 | DNE
Billionaire Nassef Sawiris to ramp up Egypt investments after tax win | Egypt Independent
Egypt’s Beltone Financial plans to raise money for growth | Reuters
Saudi’s Arrow offers to acquire Egypt’s Arab Dairy | Reuters


Rights group suspends work, cites ‘unfavorable environment’
A human rights group halted its activities starting Tuesday due to what it described as persecution and media attacks practiced against organizations working in the field. The Arab Penal Reform Organization (APRO) said it sent a letter to the Egyptian Tax Authority announcing its decision. The Ministry of Social Solidarity had given unlicensed civil society and human rights institutions to November 10 to legalize their operations and register at the ministry, threatening to take legal action against violators. Mohamed Zarea, APRO director, said the organization had been working as an Egyptian profit-seeking law firm that is subject to Egyptian laws and scrutiny by the tax authorities. He said he believes the state is attempting to tighten its grip on the organizations by any means through introducing more laws. [Egypt Independent, 11/5/2014]

Security forces storm two Egyptian campuses amid student protests
Security forces stormed the campus of Al-Azhar University in Cairo following anti-government protests by Islamist students. Students, mainly sympathizers of Students Against the Coup, were staging a protest on Wednesday to demand the release of detained female colleagues. Security forces also stormed the campus of Zagazig University in Sharqiya where students were conducting an anti-government protest. [Ahram Online, 11/5/2014]

Also of Interest
Reckless driving caused eighteen deaths in school bus crash in Beheira | Ahram Online, DNE, Aswat Masriya, Mada Masr
Egypt’s Sohag University suspends lectures at new HQ after fatal van crash | Ahram Online


Sinai tribes say government evacuation scheme ‘impossible’
Sinai tribal leader Sheikh Eissa al-Kharafin has said that the government’s plan to create a buffer zone on its borders with Gaza was impossible since it is inhabited by nearly 50,000 people. Some residents say the new measures amount to collective punishment that will do little to rebuild loyalty to a central government that has long neglected them. Meanwhile, more than eighty out of 802 houses across the borders were found to contain tunnels used for smuggling weapons and transporting “terrorists” in and out of Sinai, according to a Tuesday statement by Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. [Egypt Independent, 11/5/2014]

Also of Interest
Q and A on the “buffer zone” Egypt is creating on its eastern border in Sinai | Aswat Masriya
Police arrests eighteen alleged Brotherhood members | DNE
Military spokesperson denies extending military service duration | Egypt Independent
Mortar fire near North Sinai governorate headquarters | DNE, Aswat Masriya
Three bombs explode during security operation in Qanater | Ahram Gateway (Arabic)
Why Egypt’s mass evictions in Sinai are a risky strategy | The Guardian


UN reviews Egypt’s human rights record
Egypt’s human rights record came under fire on Wednesday during a United Nations meeting reviewing the country’s record for the first time since the 2011 ouster of longtime autocrat Hosni Mubarak. “We are deeply concerned with steps taken by Egypt that have resulted in violations of freedoms of expression, peaceful assembly and association, deprived thousands of Egyptians of fair trial guarantees, and undermined civil society’s role in the country,” US Ambassador Keith Harper told the Geneva-based UN Human Rights Council. Washington’s criticism echoed that of many other countries, including Britain, Sweden, Germany, Turkey, Brazil, the Netherlands and Norway. Nigeria, South Africa, Iraq, and Cuba, were among the nations expressing solidarity with Egypt. Egypt’s minister for transitional justice, Ibrahim al-Heneidy, said Egypt witnessed a “leap” in the status of human rights, adding that the country has issued several laws since 2011 which address human rights. These include a law on violence against women and another on the right to access to information. Meanwhile, on Tuesday, seven Egyptian rights groups said in a statement they would not attend any of their scheduled meetings at the review, fearing persecution back home. [AP, Aswat Masriya, Ahram Online, SIS, 11/5/2014]

Nobel laureate Zewail urges US not to cut aid to Egypt
In an op-ed to the Los Angeles Times, Nobel laureate in chemistry Ahmed Zewail argued the United States should not cut aid to Egypt to maintain regional peace and enhance democracy. Zewail further defended his view saying that the US needs Egypt’s partnership to preserve the peace treaty with Israel and fight terrorism in the region. The prominent scientist warned of the danger of cutting aid by pointing how the Soviet Union filled in the void left when US cut aid during former president Gamal Abdel-Nasser’s presidency. He added that it was only when president Anwar al-Sadat restored relations with the US was peace achieved between Egypt and Israel. [Ahram Online, 11/5/2014]

Also of Interest
Rights groups protest crackdown on NGOs in Egypt | DNE
Egypt condemns killings in Saudi Arabia, Yemen | DNE
Shoukry, Ngwenya discuss trade prospects between African countries | DNE
Egypt, Ethiopia laud ‘spirit of cooperation’ on dam issue | DNE
Egypt, Palestinians in contact to open Rafah crossing | Egypt Independent