Egypt says it awaits Congress vote on US aid re­duc­tion

On the other hand, Egypt dis­misses hu­man rights vi­o­la­tion al­le­ga­tions

The Daily News Egypt - - Politics -

Egypt’s For­eign Af­fairs Min­istry said Thurs­day that there was no fi­nal de­ci­sion made yet re­gard­ing the re­duc­tion of US aid to Egypt, point­ing out op­pos­ing opin­ions be­tween the se­nate panel and the For­eign Com­mit­tee at the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives.

FM spokesper­son Ahmed Abou Zaid said the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives had ap­proved a for­eign as­sis­tance bud­get with­out re­duc­tions, while a se­nate panel had de­manded its down­siz­ing.

In April, hu­man rights ex­perts urged Congress to con­sider re­duc­ing aid to Egypt, given un­sat­is­fac­tory records in free­doms. In mid-Au­gust, Reuters re­ported that Egypt will be de­nied an as­sis­tance worth $95.7m and an­other $195m would be de­layed, also cit­ing hu­man rights is­sues.

Mean­while, the min­istry fur­ther dis­missed Hu­man Rights Watch’s (HRW) re­cent re­port on tor­ture prac­tices.

The min­istry’s state­ment called HRW’s re­port “a new episode in a se­ries of de­lib­er­ate defama­tion by such or­gan­i­sa­tion, whose politi­cised agenda and bi­ases are well known and re­flect the in­ter­ests of the en­ti­ties and coun­tries spon­sor­ing it.”

Abou Zaid ex­pressed fury over HRW’s use of the term “mil­i­tary coup”, say­ing it un­der­mined the peo­ple’s up­ris­ing of 30 June and the elec­tion of Pres­i­dent Ab­del Fat­tah Al-Sisi. He fur­ther ac­cused the or­gan­i­sa­tion of fail­ing to re­spect the val­ues of free­dom and hu­man rights, which it ad­vo­cates.

“This is in ad­di­tion to its at­tempt to build a case on il­lu­sory grounds, like the de­lib­er­ate mix­ing up of the tor­ture file with the case of the Ital­ian re­searcher (Gi­ulio) Re­geni, over­step­ping the on­go­ing in­ves­ti­ga­tions course,” he added.

The Re­geni case is still un­der in­ves­ti­ga­tion but car­ried se­ri­ous ac­cu­sa­tions to Egyp­tian se­cu­rity forces of tor­ture.

The al­ready-strained re­la­tions be­tween the Amer­i­can NGO and the Egyp­tian gov­ern­ment reached a new level on Thurs­day when the lat­ter blocked ac­cess to HRW’s web­site in Egypt.

Af­ter the move, HRW Ex­ec­u­tive Di­rec­tor Ken­neth Roth tweeted on Fri­day, “Egypt [is] so wor­ried its cit­i­zens would read HRW re­port on its tor­ture, it blocked [the] web­site.” Ac­tivists shared al­ter­na­tive links to ac­cess the re­port.

Mo­hamed Fayeq, pres­i­dent of the state-funded Na­tional Coun­cil for Hu­man Rig­ghts (NCHR) said Thurs­day that the HRW ought to be more ac­cu­rate in its re­ports, deny­ing sys­tem­atic tor­tures in pris­ons and de­ten­tion places in Egypt and as­sert­ing they re­ceived no com­plaints re­gard­ing the mat­ter.

NCHR mem­bers were still able to visit pris­ons in the af­ter­math of 2013, but their role has grad­u­ally been min­imised with the Min­istry of In­te­rior stand­ing in their way. This came de­spite that in a meet­ing with Al-Sisi in De­cem­ber 2015, Fayeq re­viewed the NCHR’s keen­ness on rais­ing aware­ness on hu­man rights and free­dom, stress­ing upon co­or­di­na­tion with rel­e­vant au­thor­i­ties to ver­ify com­plaints re­lated to hu­man rights vi­o­la­tions, in­clud­ing vis­its by coun­cil mem­bers to pris­ons and po­lice sta­tions to ob­serve the con­di­tions there, ac­tiv­i­ties that AlSisi sup­pos­edly en­cour­aged.

HRW’s re­port out­lined what it de­scribed as “sys­tem­atic tor­ture prac­tices” in de­ten­tion places based on in­ter­views with 19 peo­ple, Egyp­tian me­dia re­ports and lo­cal NGOs. The re­port claimed that the cur­rent po­lice ap­pa­ra­tus “brought back vi­o­lent prac­tices of the Mubarak era in ad­di­tion to lack of ac­count­abil­ity.”

The min­istry fur­ther dis­missed Hu­man Rights Watch’s (HRW)re­cent re­port on tor­ture prac­tices

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