Egypt: survey of political parties' views reveals 'disturbing' opposition to Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights's rights

Strong support for ending state of emergency laws, but abolition of death penalty opposed

Most of the biggest Egyptian political parties have committed to delivering ambitious human right reform in the country’s transition, but have either given mixed signals or have flatly refused to sign up to ending discrimination, protecting Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights’s rights and to abolishing the death penalty, Amnesty International said today.

Ahead of parliamentary elections which began in November, Amnesty asked political parties running in Egypt’s elections to sign a “human rights manifesto” containing ten key measures to signal that they were serious about delivering meaningful human rights reform.

Amnesty wrote to 54 political parties and sought meetings with 15 of the main ones, nine of whom signed up to the manifesto, either in its entirety or to some of the pledges. Three others gave oral feedback.

The Freedom and Justice Party, which won the most seats in the new People’s Assembly, was one of three parties not to respond substantively, despite considerable efforts by Amnesty to seek its views.

Amnesty International interim Middle East and North Africa Director Philip Luther said:

“With the first session of the new parliament sitting this week, it is encouraging that so many of the major parties engaged with us and were prepared to sign up to ambitious pledges for change on combating torture, protecting slum residents' rights and ensuring fair trials.

“But it is disturbing that a number of parties refused to commit to equal rights for Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights. With a handful of Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights taking up seats in the new parliament, there remain huge obstacles to Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights playing a full role in Egyptian political life.

“We challenge the new parliament to use the opportunity of drafting the new constitution to guarantee all of these rights for all people in Egypt. The cornerstone must be non-discrimination and gender equality.

"The real test for political parties will be to translate these pledges into initiatives in parliament to abolish repressive Mubarak-era laws, reform the police and security services, and pass laws which protect human rights and break with the legacy of abuse. One of the first measures should be the lifting of the much-decried state of emergency.

"Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights and men stood side by side in the protests and have been instrumental in the movement that toppled President Mubarak and led to these elections. Denying equality would dash the hope that Egypt is entering a new era of respect for the rights and dignity of all."

While the only parties to sign up to all of the pledges contained in the manifesto were the Egyptian Social Democratic Party and the Popular Socialist Alliance Party, nearly all of the 12 parties who responded agreed to all of the first seven points of the manifesto. These included commitments on civil and political rights - key promises included ending the three-decade-old state of emergency, combating torture, upholding freedom of expression and association, ensuring fair trials and investigating abuses committed under the rule of Hosni Mubarak.

Amnesty also secured pledges from nearly all the parties to address the rights of those living in slums and to deliver economic, social and cultural rights for all Egyptians.

The eighth pledge, to end discrimination, was signed up to by most parties but several said they could not sign up to Amnesty’s call for an end to discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. Comments from at least two parties suggested that the issue of discrimination against Copts, including in building churches, has been exaggerated.

A number of parties had reservations over the ninth pledge, which called for Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights’s rights to be protected, including for Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights to be given equal rights in marriage, divorce, child custody and inheritance. Several parties invoked Islamic law to explain why they would not commit to this.

Most parties made reservations over the tenth point, which called for the abolition of the death penalty, either stating that this was in contradiction with Islam or that they were continuing to study the issue. Even the two parties inclined to abolish the death penalty said that this was a long-term goal not achievable in the coming years.

The ten pledges in Amnesty’s Human Rights Manifesto for Egypt are:
1. End the state of emergency and reform the security forces
2. End incommunicado detention and combat torture
3. Ensure fair trials
4. Uphold the rights to freedom of assembly, association and expression
5. Investigate past abuses
6. Realise economic, social and cultural rights for all
7. Uphold the rights of people living in slums
8. End discrimination
9. Protect Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights’s rights
10. Abolish the death penalty

Full details are available at: www.amnesty.org/en/news/pressure-egyptian-political-parties-deliver-25-…

Responses by Egyptian political parties to the Human Rights Manifesto for Egypt:
In November Amnesty sent letters to 54 Egyptian political parties inviting them to sign up to the manifesto. The organisation sought meetings with the leaders of 15 of the biggest parties in November and December. Below are the responses obtained:

Egyptian Social Democratic Party: signed up to all ten pledges, but said it was premature to expect abolition of the death penalty in the absence of popular support.

Popular Socialist Alliance Party: signed up to all ten pledges, but said it was premature to expect abolition of the death penalty in the absence of popular support.

Egypt Youth Party: sent a letter with the signed manifesto, stating its commitment to human rights in general, but without giving details on the ten pledges.

New Al Wafd Party: signed with the exception of the abolition of the death penalty.

Democratic Front Party: signed with the exception of the abolition of the death penalty.

Reform and Development Party: signed with the exception of the abolition of the death penalty.

Al Karama Party: agreed orally to all pledges with the exception of the abolition of the death penalty.

Al Nour Party: agreed orally to all pledges with the exception of the abolition of the death penalty and protection of Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights’s rights.

Revolution’s Guards Party: sent a letter agreeing to the manifesto, with the exception of the abolition of the death penalty and protection of Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights’s rights, stating that they follow directions from Al-Azhar religious institutions on such issues.

Egyptian Liberation Party: signed with the exception of the abolition of the death penalty and protection of Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights’s rights, stressing its opposition to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights; agreed to commit to ensuring non-discrimination, with the exception of non-discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation.

The Al-Wasat (Center) Party: signed but expressed strong reservations to the abolition of the death penalty, the protection of Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights’s rights and ensuring non-discrimination. Expressed reservations on non-discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and according equal rights for Muslims and Copts in building houses of worship.

Egypt Revolution Party: party representatives raised concerns in a meeting over the need for “security” and the obligation to respect “Islamic values”, justifying the continuation of the state of emergency, although pledging to combat torture. They also said freedom of expression, association and assembly were important but only as long as they do not “threaten public security”. They said Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights’s rights should not be in contradiction with religion and that discrimination against Copts was an issue blown out of proportion. The party did not raise reservations over other pledges.

Free Egyptians Party: did not respond to meeting request nor give feedback on manifesto.

Freedom and Justice Party: did not respond to meeting request nor give feedback on manifesto. Amnesty did not receive a substantive response to its last attempt to contact them in January 2012.

Justice Party: did not respond to meeting request nor give feedback on manifesto.

Notes for editors:
Amnesty experts are available for interview from London or Cairo.

Amnesty International UK will stage a “Demonstrate for a Human Right Revolution” event with human rights activists from the Middle East and North Africa in Trafalgar Square in central London on Saturday 11 February 2012, 12-2pm (the date marking the climax of Egypt’s revolution last year). This will be part of a global day of Amnesty events in numerous countries.
 

View latest press releases