Parliament Speaker Condemns EP for Criticising Rights Violations in Egypt
Agence France-Presse, December 1, 2001 http://www.zawya.com/Story.cfm?id=678198281&Section=Countries&page=Egypt
CAIRO—Egyptian Parliament Speaker Ahmed Fathi Surur
has condemned statements by the European Parliament (EP) expressing concern
about human rights violations in Egypt, the state-run press reported Saturday.
"Surur addressed a letter to the president of the EP Nicole Fontaine,
in response to a report by the committee of foreign affairs of the EP...
calling on the Egyptian government to respect human rights, to stop judicial
procedures against homosexuals and to cancel the death penalty", the
weekly Akhbar Al-Yom reported.
The EP approved on Thursday a proposal to establish a Euro-Mediterranean
Association Agreement with Egypt, the bulk of whose clauses are related to
trade but whose language also commits the Egyptian government to respect human
rights and democracy.
The draft of the proposal prepared by the EP’s foreign affairs committee
noted that "respect for human rights and democratic principles (are) an
‘essential element’ of the EU-Egypt agreement", and noted that
"the agreement can be suspended if they are infringed."
"Parliament also wants to see the abolition of the death penalty and
concern is expressed at the arrest of 52 men on account of their sexual
orientation," said the EP’s report on the vote.
The parliamentarians also regretted that no joint Egyptian-European
committees had been set up to guarantee "democratic scrutiny of the new
agreement," the report said.
In a letter to Fontaine, Surur stated that "the Egyptian Constitution
stipulates respect for the fundamental rights of citizens and the Egyptian
government respects their rights in practice", Akhbar al-Yom said.
"Only the Egyptian parliament has the right to monitor the respect of
the government" for human rights in the country, Surur said.
Surur also stated that "homosexuality does not figure (among crimes)
in Egyptian law," and that "the aforementioned were accused of
debauchery and of contempt for religion."
Twenty-three out of 52 allegedly gay men put on trial before a state
security court following a raid on a Cairo disco were condemned to prison
sentences of up to five years in mid-November.
Homosexuality is not listed explicitly in the Egyptian criminal code, but
jurists say that many laws that incriminate breaches of social mores can be
applied to homosexuality.
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