Last edited: February 14, 2005

Egypt Rebuffs European Concern Over Rights

Datalounge, December 3, 2001

CAIRO—The Speaker of the Egyptian Parliament, Ahmed Fathi Surur, on Friday condemned statements by the European Parliament expressing concern about human rights violations in Egypt, reports the Agence France-Presse.

The Egyptian weekly Akhbar Al-Yom says Speaker Surur sent a letter to the president of the Euro Parliament, Nicole Fontaine, prostesting a report by the committee of foreign affairs which called on the Egyptian government to respect human rights, to stop judicial procedures against gay citizens and to cancel the death penalty.

On Thursday the EU approved a proposal to establish a trade-related Euro-Mediterranean Association Agreement with Egypt that deals predominantly with trade matters but whose language also commits the Egyptian government to respect human rights and democracy.

The draft of the proposal prepared by the Euro Parliament’s foreign affairs committee noted "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 in the same communique expressed regret that no joint Egyptian-European committee had been established to guarantee "democratic scrutiny of the new agreement.

Speaker Surur stated that "the Egyptian Constitution stipulates respect for the fundamental rights of citizens and the Egyptian government respects their rights in practice. Only the Egyptian parliament has the right to monitor the respect of the government" for human rights in the country, Surur said.

Surur reiterated 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 predominantly gay men put on trial before a state security court following a raid on a Cairo disco were condemned to prison sentences of between 3 and five years last month.

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