Egypt protests U.N. rights criticisms

By Hazem Badr, Thursday, March 13, 2014

Earlier this week, 27 U.N. member states issued a joint declaration expressing concern over what they described as

Earlier this week, 27 U.N. member states issued a joint declaration expressing concern over what they described as "Egypt's repeated use of excessive force against demonstrators."

CAIRO – Egypt's Foreign Ministry on Thursday summoned European ambassadors whose countries recently signed a joint declaration by the United Nations Human Rights Council denouncing Egypt's rights record.

In a statement, the ministry said that Hatem Seif al-Nassr, assistant foreign minister for European affairs, had summoned the European envoys to deliver a "strongly-worded" letter of protest against the declaration.

"He [Seif al-Nassr] wanted to make it clear to them that this position – if not corrected – would harm relations between the two sides," the ministry said.

Earlier this week, 27 U.N. member states issued a joint declaration expressing concern over what they described as "Egypt's repeated use of excessive force against demonstrators."

It was the first such action to be taken by the U.N. Human Rights Council in Geneva since Egyptian security forces dispersed two major support camps for ousted president Mohamed Morsi last summer, killing hundreds of protesters in the process. 

Fifteen NGOs, including the New York-based Human Rights Watch, sent a letter to U.N. member states on March 3 to draw attention to what they described as "Egypt's dangerous" human rights situation.

The Foreign Ministry statement quoted Seif al-Nassr as saying that he wanted to deliver the letter of protest to the European envoys in hopes of preserving Egypt's strategic relations with their respective countries.

"The proud Egyptian people don't accept this kind of treatment," the statement quoted the assistant foreign minister as saying.

He said the European countries that criticized Egypt's rights record should instead offer their support to Egypt so the latter might go ahead with the implementation of its transitional roadmap.

The roadmap was imposed by Egypt's military following last July's ouster of elected president Mohamed Morsi by the army.

It calls for a referendum on an amended version of Egypt's 2012 constitution (completed in mid-January), along with presidential and parliamentary polls later this year.

According to the Foreign Ministry, European signatories to the U.N. declaration overlooked recent steps taken by Egypt towards democratic transition.

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