Rights groups call for UN action on Egypt 'reprisals'

According to Farha, several families from two communities she met were later subjected to "forced evictions" and had their furniture thrown in the streets, leaving them homeless. (File/AFP)
Updated 12 December 2018
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Rights groups call for UN action on Egypt 'reprisals'

  • They called on the UN to "ensure an urgent and robust system-wide response"
  • According to the UN, Farha's visit was the first to Egypt by an expert appointed by its Human Rights Council since 2011

GENEVA: Rights groups on Wednesday called for a "robust" response to a UN expert's allegations that people she met during a visit to Egypt faced harassment, intimidation and other reprisals afterwards.
A statement signed by six organisations including Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International urged an "independent UN investigation" into the accusations.
Last week the UN Special Rapporteur on the right to housing, Leilani Farha, said she was "shocked" at the treatment of communities she met during her official visit from September 24 to October 3.
According to Farha, several families from two communities she met were later subjected to "forced evictions" and had their furniture thrown in the streets, leaving them homeless.
Other people she had contact with were summoned by the police for interrogation, and one faced "arbitrary arrest and undisclosed detention", the UN said.
"Egypt has failed to adhere to the assurances provided to me that no person would be harassed, intimidated or subjected to reprisal for meeting or providing information to me or my delegation," Farha said.
Her statement triggered an angry response from Egypt which accused her of "fabricating lies".
The rights groups warned that failing to act in response to the alleged reprisals "will only encourage similar human rights violations in the future and risk undermining the accessibility and credibility of the UN experts and wider human rights system."
They called on the UN to "ensure an urgent and robust system-wide response" and said its Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights should review "any ongoing cooperation" with the Egyptian government.
The Egyptian authorities have clamped down on dissent, particularly among supporters of former Islamist president Mohamed Morsi, who was toppled by the military in 2013 following mass protests against his rule.
The crackdown was later expanded to include liberal and leftist secular activists.
According to the UN, Farha's visit was the first to Egypt by an expert appointed by its Human Rights Council since 2011.


France’s Macron sends senior diplomat to Iran to defuse US tensions

Updated 23 min 12 sec ago
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France’s Macron sends senior diplomat to Iran to defuse US tensions

  • Emmanuel Bonne held ‘high-level meetings’ Wednesday in Tehran
  • The French presidency refused to say whom the top diplomatic adviser met

PARIS: President Emmanuel Macron sent his top diplomatic adviser to Iran this week as part of European efforts to defuse tensions between Tehran and Washington, the French presidency said Thursday.
The adviser, Emmanuel Bonne, held “high-level meetings” Wednesday in Tehran, “with the aim of contributing to the de-escalation of tensions in the region,” Macron’s office said.
The presidency refused to say whom Bonne met, adding only that he left Tehran on Wednesday evening.
The strains between Washington and Tehran increased Thursday with Iran’s announcement that it had shot down a US “spy drone” that violated Iranian airspace near the Strait of Hormuz.
The United States has yet to respond.
The incident marks the latest escalation in tensions following last week’s attacks on two oil tankers in the Strait of Hormuz, which the United States blamed on Iran.
Tehran has denied any involvement.
Tensions between the longtime foes, who have had no relations since the hostage crisis that followed the 1979 Islamic revolution, have increased sharply since US President Donald Trump last year abandoned a landmark 2015 nuclear agreement with Iran and re-imposed sanctions.
Macron, who is traveling to a G20 summit in the Japanese city of Osaka on June 28-29, will “have contact with the main players” in the standoff, his office said.
Before that he will pay an official visit to Japan on June 26-27, during which he will hold talks with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who recently traveled to Iran to try mediate in the crisis.
Abe met with Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who categorically refused to hold talks with Trump.
The EU is under pressure from Tehran to try salvage the 2015 deal, with Iran threatening to breach its nuclear enrichment limits.
On Tuesday, Macron urged Tehran to be “patient and responsible.”