Egypt listens

In the UN, Brazil should make recommendations with the victims in mind In the UN, Brazil should make recommendations with the victims in mind

This Wednesday (November 5), Brazil will have the opportunity to make consistent recommendations for Egypt to comply with its human rights obligations. The alarming crisis that has engulfed the country since 2011 has already caused the arrest of more than 16,000 activists, according to the NGO Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR).


The African nation is appearing before the Universal Periodic Review (UPR), a hearing on the human rights situation of countries that make up the United Nations (UN). In this process, every four and a half years, States are questioned by their peers – other States – on what they have done to improve human rights in the country.


The UPR hearing is taking place shortly before the deadline ends (November 10) for human rights organizations in Egypt to register under the controversial law 84/2002 that limits the work of these organizations. Many of them are operating without registration and fear that the law may be used to criminalize them and restrict their funding.


Organizations from Latin America expressed “concern over the serious situation in Egypt” and contributed information to help formulate questions and recommendations during the review process. 


“Brazil has an important role in this process, since recommendations coming from a country from the south, and with a similar geopolitical situation, could have a major impact on the ground,” said Camila Asano, coordinator of Foreign Policy at Conectas.


Iran and Angola UPR


Iran and Angola also appeared recently in their respective UPR hearings.


In the Angola UPR, on October 30, Brazil made just two recommendations that human rights organizations considered were too general: to step up efforts to strengthen the Judiciary, as the country has already done with the creation of the Commission on the Reform of the Legislative and Judiciary; and to ratify the Convention against Torture, which is extremely important, given that Angola has not acceded to this convention that has now been nearly universally accepted.


The Brazilian diplomatic mission did not take into consideration the recommendations presented by Brazilian organizations that spoke with Angolan human rights organizations.


These recommendations included the creation of a State Education Department, a measure considered urgent for addressing the problems related to the education of young people, adults and people with disabilities; and the requirement for the Angolan authorities to take the necessary steps to assure that human rights defenders, including journalists, can do their jobs without facing persecution or legal action.


In the case of Iran (October 30), the Brazilian delegation acted positively, primarily for mentioning among its recommendations the persecution of journalists and activists, and domestic violence against women, drawing a parallel with Brazil’s own “Maria da Penha” law on domestic violence.


“Reaffirming its concern over the lack of protection for certain religious minorities, human rights defenders and women who endure violence, Brazil – like it did in 2010 – sent a clear message that the UPR does not end in Geneva, but begins when the reforms are implemented on the ground,” said Mani Mostofi, director of the NGO Impact Iran.


According to Mostofi, who came to Brazil and met with the Ministry of Foreign Relations, it is up to the Iranian authorities and the international community to not let Iran simply make promises that will not be kept, as it has done for the past four years, since the country’s last appearance in the UPR.


Click here to read the full letter with recommendations from Latin American organizations to Brazil for the Egyptian UPR. 

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