By Joana Saba
Saudi Arabia, Montenegro, and the Ivory Coast will be leading the review of Egypt’s human rights track record in the United Nations Human Rights Council’s upcoming Universal Periodic Review, set to take place on 5 November.
The Universal Periodic Review (UPR) takes place every four years under the UNHCR (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees) , seeking to review the human rights situation of all UN member states. This is the second time Egypt is being reviewed. The first Universal Periodic Review of Egypt took place in February 2010.
According to the website of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), the UPR “provides the opportunity for each state to declare what actions they have taken to improve the human rights situations in their countries and to fulfil their human rights obligations.”
Saudi Arabia has indicated its support for Egypt on various occasions since the 3 July 2013 ouster of former president Mohamed Morsi, having pledged $12bn, along with UAE and Kuwait, in aid to Egypt immediately following the ouster of the president. The oil-rich Gulf kingdom has spent a total of $5bn in oil aid to Egypt since July 2013, according to Reuters.
Human rights lawyer and executive director of the Arab Network for Human Rights Information Gamal Eid commented on the selection of Saudi Arabia to review Egypt’s human rights record, stating that “this is not a surprise and is completely expected.”
“The Arab states are working under the reasoning of covering up for one another in their human rights records,” he said.
“The same happened during the last UPR, and Egypt objected many of the recommendations made. Of the 171 recommendations during the session, only 99 were recognised by Egypt, and this year Egypt returns to the UPR without having executed more than 90% of the recommendations,” Eid said.
“We are facing a scandal in terms of Egypt’s and Saudi Arabia’s human rights records,” he continued.
Last March, the Forum of Independent Egyptian Human Rights NGOs submitted its report on Egypt’s human rights situation to the OHCHR, to be taken into account in preparation for the report to be presented by the OCHCR during the UPR session.
The Forum of Independent Egyptian Human Rights NGOs is made up of 19 rights organisations based in Egypt, including the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies (CIHRS), the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR), the Association for Freedom of Thought and Expression (AFTE) and the Hisham Mubarak Law Centre, among others.
According to a statement published on CIHRS’s website, the report focuses on political participation rights, as well as security practices, which were the “focus of many of the recommendations from Egypt’s first UPR, drawing attention to the critical importance of establishing accountability mechanisms in order to ensure that those responsible for violations are identified and held to account.”