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.


Netanyahu to cut US trip short after rocket attack near Tel Aviv

Updated 15 min 45 sec ago
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Netanyahu to cut US trip short after rocket attack near Tel Aviv

  • Netanyahu said the incident will evoke a strong Israeli reaction
  • Palestinian rockets rarely reach an area at that distance from Gaza

MISHMERET/JERUSALEM: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Monday that he is to cut short his trip to the United States after a rocket attack near Tel Aviv.

“In light of the security events I decided to cut short my visit to the US,” Netanyahu said, calling the attack a heinous crime that would draw a strong Israeli response.

He said he would meet with President Donald Trump in the coming hours and then fly back immediately.

A rocket fired from the Gaza Strip hit a house in a community north of Tel Aviv and caused it to catch fire, wounding seven Israelis, authorities and medics said.

Israel’s army said the rocket was fired from the Palestinian enclave run by Islamist movement Hamas, raising the risk of another escalation between the two sides just ahead of April 9 Israeli elections.

The house hit was located in the community of Mishmeret, police said. Medics said they were treating one Israeli with moderate wounds and four others injured lightly.

Mishmeret is more than 80 kilometers from the Gaza Strip and rocket fire from the Palestinian enclave at that distance is rare.

Monday’s incident comes after two rockets were fired from Gaza toward Tel Aviv — also rare — on March 14.

No damage or injuries were caused, but Israel responded to that and further rocket fire by hitting what it said were around 100 Hamas targets across the Gaza Strip.

Four Palestinians were reported wounded in those strikes.

Both Hamas and its ally Islamic Jihad denied they were behind the March 14 rocket fire toward Tel Aviv, raising the possibility they were launched by fringe groups.

Israel’s military said they were launched by Hamas, but later there were Israeli media reports that the army’s preliminary assessment was that they had been fired by mistake during maintenance work.

The reports were a sign that Israel was seeking to calm tensions. The military had refused to comment on the reports at the time.

Monday’s rocket comes just days ahead of the March 30 one-year anniversary of Palestinian protests and clashes along the Gaza Strip’s border with Israel.

An informal truce between Hamas and Israel had led to relative calm along the border of the blockaded strip, but recent weeks have seen another uptick in violence.