Egypt is one of the top countries in terms of ratification of binding international human right conventions
Tuesday، 02 November 2021 - 03:09 PM
Diaa Rashwan, Chairman of the State Information Service and Head of the Syndicate of Journalists, participated in the discussion seminar held by the weekly program "The Scene" on "Ten" channel on October evening 31, 2021, entitled "Egypt Without Emergency...Gains and Messages". The program was presented by Amr Abdel Hamid and Nashaat Al-Dihy to comment on President Sisi’s decision to cancel the extension of the state of emergency, which he declared on October 25, 2021.
Also, a number of writers, thinkers, politicians, diplomats and security figures participated in the seminar, including: Dr. Abdel Moneim Said, a political thinker and a member of the Senate, Mr. Akram Al-Qassas, Chairman of the Board of Directors and Editor-in-Chief of “the Seventh Day”, Dr. Salah Hassaballah, a politician and a former member of Parliament, Mr. Emad El-Din Hussein, a journalist and the editor-in-chief of “El-Shorouk” and a member of the Senate, Ambassador Alaa Rushdy, Assistant Foreign Minister for Human Rights and Head of the Permanent Higher Technical Secretariat for Human Rights, Mr. Essam Shiha, member of the National Council for Human Rights and President of the Egyptian Organization for Human Rights, and Brigadier General Khaled Okasha, security expert and director of the Egyptian Center for Thought and Strategic Studies.
The seminar was about four main themes:
- The significance of the cancellation of the extension of the state of emergency
- What after the cancellation of the extension of the state of emergency, and the need to set forth a new vision
- The importance of clarifying the facts of what is happening on the land of Egypt in terms of a developmental renaissance for public opinion, and the importance of getting this idea to the minds of the people.
- The importance of the role of parties among the people.
Diaa Rashwan mentioned at the beginning of his comment that the periods, in which Egypt lived without emergencies were relatively short. The state of emergency law was first enacted in Egypt in 1958, as Law No. 162 of 1958, under the name of the Emergency Law. It is implemented when the life of the nation is threatened by war, invasion, general insurrection, disorder, natural disaster or other public emergency. It is well known in Egypt that a state of emergency was declared in 1967 during the 1967 Arab–Israeli War, and it remained imposed until it was lifted by the late President Anwar Sadat in 1980 for about 15 months, after which he was assassinated. He added that Everyone must know that the state of emergency was lifted for the first time by the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces following the presidential elections, before handing over power to the Muslim Brotherhood in April 2012; and therefore the state of emergency has not been lifted in 46 years except for about a year and a quarter by the late President Anwar Sadat. In addition, the state of emergency was not imposed throughout the term of President Sisi except in April 2017, where the state remained without emergency for 3 years. While it was imposed only for one month throughout the term of President Adly Mansour to resist mass anti-government sit-ins in Rabaa al-Adawiya and al-Nahda squares as well as terrorism. However, since 2017, a new state of emergency has been declared, according to a new constitution, which stipulates its imposition for a period of 3 months only, and then it is renewed through the Parliament. Then, he summed up saying that during the 7 years of President Sisi's rule, there was no emergency except for only 4 years.
Rashwan, also, said that there are opposing media mouthpieces that refer to the state of emergency as if it means arrest. They do not realize that the Supreme Constitutional Court in Egypt, in July 2013, issued a historic ruling canceling Clause 1 in Article 3, which allows arrest and search without a warrant, and there is no administrative detention even in emergency now. On the contrary, two months after the emergence of Corona; specifically in May 2020, a fundamental amendment took place in the emergency law focused on fighting epidemics, including the closure of schools and compensation for teachers. This means that the current emergency law does not contain administrative detention, but rather it confronts epidemics.
Moreover, Diaa Rashwan said that Dr. Mahmoud Bassiouni, the great Egyptian legislator, participated in drafting the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948, which Egypt also participated in the development of its legislation, as Egypt is part of the world, and therefore the world’s interest in what is happening in Egypt is something necessary. He pointed out that Egypt does not lift the state of emergency out of fear of anyone, nor does it compliment anyone, but we are part of the world’s values and therefore the national strategy for human rights. when the state of emergency was announced, everyone saw the official reactions. Also, the State Information Service monitors media reactions. In this respect, We tell the world that we are part of these values, and that these values are an aspiration to us, and we have never evaded the implementation of a human right, but we develop according to our ability to reach perfection in human rights, not to mention that no country has reached perfection, but we strive for that.
Rashwan added saying: “Did we fall short in this file? No, we did not. And what are our circumstances? Our circumstances are that we started with the rights of the second and third generation. The first generation is the so-called civil and political rights, but when did these rights appear? They appeared in a world emerging from a second world war in which 60 million people were killed, a world focusing on Hitler’s dictatorship and Mussolini’s fascism, and entered the tyranny of the Soviet Union (the Eastern Bloc), and thus began focusing on these rights. So, the issue is not only human rights. The first generation appeared because this was part of a world that began to take shape. In the fifties and sixties, the second generation appeared in a world that looks forward to economic, social, cultural, and environmental rights. We tell them the first generation is not the only generation, as we belong to the second and third generation; we apply its concepts in our Egyptian constitution, which includes articles on specific minorities in Egypt, as the 2014 constitution includes the regions of Nuba and Sinai, and this is part of the second and third generation.”
He, also, pointed out that if we count human rights in numbers, meaning how many of these rights we apply, we will find that we have shortcomings in one or two rights only. And shortcomings here do not mean that we do not reach perfection in the application of one or more of these rights, but the shortcoming is that we have not completed all aspects related to them. He highlighted that there is a fact that may sound like a surprise that no one may know, i.e. regarding the 18 binding human rights conventions in the United Nations, Egypt is a signatory to 10 of them, while the United States is a signatory to 7, Japan is a signatory to 5, and Israel is a signatory to 7. Therefore, we are, in general and without reservations, Egypt is one of the most participating countries in the ratification of binding international human right conventions.
As for the need to set forth a new vision after the cancellation of the extension of the state of emergency, Rashwan said, "We are facing a big and new project. We are witnessing the third project." The first project was during the era of Muhammad Ali Pasha, the second project was during the era of Gamal Abdel Nasser, and the third project is at present. These projects are not the same, but they have one goal, which is a better Egypt, a better citizen. Meanwhile, during the era of President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi, the political leadership - I think - has sufficient and adequate knowledge of what has happened in the world during, at least, the last 70 and 80 years, and is aware of fears from being drawn into the inflamed regional conflicts. The political leadership is, also, aware of the lessons we learned from what had happened before. However, this does not mean to retreat, or stay in isolation. In fact, we are moving away from hot regional conflicts, and at the same time we are participating in all the hot and cold regional problems in our own way. Meaning that Egypt is present, but at the same time it is not involved. As for the future, we are clearly and frankly like all nations when the modern renaissance and the industrial revolution and its aftermath began. All nations did not proceed at once, but they took their steps, where every step had priorities that stemmed from their desire and capabilities together. Ours is to be a great country. At this moment it is difficult, but this is possible after 10 years. And in order to be a great country, we have to know what our priorities are and what resources we have. There is no doubt that the ultimate goal of perfection is that all these things go hand in hand with each other; economic progress, industrial progress, health progress, educational progress in addition to freedom of opinion and expression, and this is our ambition. Egypt throughout its life has not denied political rights or freedom of opinion and expression. This has never happened, and there is not a single document or a single statement in the current era since June 30 that denies this.
Rashwan continued saying: "On the contrary, had it not been for our adherence to political rights and freedom of opinion and expression, we would not have brought down the Brotherhood, we would not have brought down the Brotherhood except by exercising these rights. The Egyptian state is now, and all of us, and the political parties that we talked about, are part of this issue. I will talk about one alliance "for the love of Egypt" in which there are 13 parties that are not outside the legitimacy, but are at the heart of the Egyptian regime now. Where are they?!” He went on saying: “This is a question we ask to the 13 parties, and I do not ask it to other parties out of the remaining hundred of parties. I am talking about these 13, which include the Egyptian Democratic Party, the Justice Party, the Wafd, and the Tagammu Party that represent the schools of opposition, the schools of Egyptian political thought.
In response to a question about what is required from these parties, Rashwan answered saying: “First, they should be parties, and the word “party in this world” has only one definition, a party that has leadership, has an idea, has followers seeking to govern. Also, each party is required to have its own program, a presence in Parliament and in public life, as well.
On the importance of establishing a political and social dialogue in which all parties as well as political and civil currents participate, Diaa Rashwan said: “First, there were 54,000 seats in local councils when Egypt’s population was 80 million, and the number will increase at least twenty percent as a result of the distribution stipulated in the constitution, and therefore we are talking about 70,000 seats, as for why we need parties, and why we want politics, are we talking about a state or a company, of course we are talking about a state, so companies have a system and states have another. Countries by classical definition are people, government and territory, all of which are linked by patriotism, and politics is to preserve the homeland and the future, so without politics there are no states, there are other things that have other names. Metaverse, for example, has a budget of ten countries. But there are no rights or patriotism called Metaverse. Therefore, politics is the origin of human existence since creation. We are talking about a country in which the first state in history was established, and it is not right after all these years to forget the origin of our existence. So what does the word “politics” mean? First, it is the preservation of any system, a theory that is very simple and does not require complexity that is called satisfaction, general consent, a satisfaction they call legitimacy. Second, how does consent come? This consent comes originally from practice. It does not have to be material. The important thing is to create an interest for the general public to stand by you, and convince them with the idea. If there is an interest without an idea, the whole issue will not succeed, and if the idea exists without an interest, the issue will not succeed either. Therefore, the role of the parties is summed up in the idea. This system, this state has been carrying out unprecedented actions in terms of the interest for the past seven years, but it has not been able to convince many people, because the idea is absent.
Rashwan explained that the tool for conveying the idea is politics, and the main tools of politics are the parties. To speak procedurally; First, it is necessary to amend the Law of Parties in line with this concept and to include clear provisions that parties, which do not perform their tasks are motivated by legislative texts, and parties that do not perform their functions are dissolved by legislative texts. Second: The scope of public debate in Egypt must expand.
He added that this is related to the third point, asking: “In Parliament, where are the monitoring tools?” He pointed out that the monitoring tools are very weak, although such tools create the feeling that these parties are seriously defending the people.
Regarding the evaluation of the parliamentary movement from requests for briefing and interrogations and their relationship to the so-called monitoring tools, Rashwan added that the monitoring tools are very important, and said: “I remember names like Mahfouz Al-Qadi and Mumtaz Nassar. Those are people who used monitoring tools. This is the meaning of opening the field, we are talking about the future, and I will present a simple example from the Asian culture. Does any of us have any doubts that the Egyptian person, whether a worker, a teacher, or other, is dozens of times less enthusiastic to work than an Asian?! Where did this enthusiasm come from, despite the hard experiences these peoples went through such as the springboard of South Korea. Also, Japan went through harsher circumstances; namely a war and a nuclear bomb. What made the Japanese person keep working for five or six hours after the official working hours? Definitely, values plus ideas, and this is the role of the parties. The role of the parties is to preserve what is being built now, which may be lost from us if we neglect politics. Part of this comes from political entities like the Parliament. In this respect, the President said clearly in his speech: “We want to hear the other opinion.”