Last edited: February 14, 2005

Parliament Speaker Condemns EP for Criticising Rights Violations in Egypt

Agence France-Presse, December 1, 2001

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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