Cablegate: Mfa, Activist Expectations for February 17 Upr

DE RUEHEG #0187/01 0420845
R 110845Z FEB 10

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 CAIRO 000187


E.O. 12958: DECL: 2035/02/11
SUBJECT: MFA, ACTIVIST EXPECTATIONS FOR FEBRUARY 17 UPR REF: 09 CAIRO 2277; 09 CAIRO 1948; 09 CAIRO 1433; 09 CAIRO 44 CLASSIFIED BY: Donald A. Blome, Minister-Counselor, State, ECPO; REASON: 1.4(B), (D)

1.KEY POINTS -- (C) In advance of the February 17 UN Human Rights Council's Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of Egypt, the MFA told us the GOE delegation will focus on achievements on women's and children's issues, and the voluntary pledges outlined in its November 2009 UPR submission. -- (C) According to the MFA, the GOE plans to accept 40 to 50 percent of the recommendations issued at the February 17 session, consistent with what it considers the percentage of western countries' acceptance of UPR recommendations. -- (C) NGOs outlined their belief that Egypt is an "exceptional" human rights case, because of impunity, lack of political will for change, and the Interior Ministry's expanding role in public life. -- (C) NGOs asked western countries for substantive recommendations February 17 and subsequent follow-up to secure GOE acceptance of the recommendations and implementation timelines. ------------------------- View from the MFA -------------------------

2.(C) MFA Deputy Director for Human Rights Omar Shalaby told us January 28 that Minister of State for Parliamentary and Legal Affairs Mufeed Shehab would lead the GOE delegation to Geneva, which will also include MFA Deputy Assistant Minister for Human Rights Wael Aboulmagd, Legal Advisor to President Mubarak Mustafa Hanafy, a member of parliament TBD from the human rights committee, and members of the quasi-governmental National Council for Women and the National Council for Childhood and Motherhood, which is part of the Ministry of State for Population and Families. Shalaby said the GOE will not coordinate with other countries in advance of the February 17 session, following the example of India, which the GOE liked. If there is "complimentary fluff" from other delegations, Shalaby contended, it would not be because of Egypt's request.

3.(C) Shalaby told us that during the session, the GOE delegation will highlight what it considers to be achievements, such as the 2008 amendments to the Child Law, and the creation of an inter-ministerial Trafficking-in-Persons Committee, which is working on comprehensive legislation. (Note: Among other provisions, per ref D the 2008 Child Law amendments criminalized female genital mutilation for the first time, raised the legal marriage age for girls from 16 to 18, allowed the mother of a child whose father is unknown to issue a birth certificate for the child under the mother's name, and criminalized trafficking in children. End note.) According to Shalaby, the delegation will refer to its voluntary pledges in the GOE's November 2009 UPR submission, particularly regarding a counterterrorism law to replace the State of Emergency (ref A). (Note: The pledge is to "Finalize the text of a balanced counterterrorism law," and does not mention the State of Emergency. End note.)

4.(C) Shalaby said the delegation will also note continuing human rights challenges, such as the terror threat necessitating the State of Emergency. He asserted that the GOE plans to accept 40 to CAIRO 00000187 002 OF 002 50 percent of the recommendations issued by other countries, based on an MFA finding that Western European and Others Group (WEOG) countries generally accept this percentage of recommendations. He warned that recommendations from governments on "gay rights or gay marriage would ruin the process," from the GOE's perspective. Shalaby expressed concern that Egyptian NGOs and the Egyptian press in Geneva could "distort" the GOE's human rights record, and "undermine Egyptian public trust" in the UPR process. --------------------------------------------- ---------------------- ---------------------------- Activists Urge Substantive Recommendations and Coordinated Follow-Up --------------------------------------------- ---------------------- ----------------------------

5.(C) On January 18, XXXXXXXXXXXX convened a briefing for western diplomats in advance of the UPR. XXXXXXXXXXXX chaired the independent NGO coalition that submitted a September 2009 UPR report to the UN Human Rights Council (ref B). XXXXXXXXXXXX outlined the coalition's position that Egypt is an "exceptional" human rights case due to the impunity for human rights violators, the lack of GOE political will to make progress, and the expanding role of Interior Ministry State Security in public life. XXXXXXXXXXXX recommended that because of the limited time available in the February 17 session, western countries should focus their interventions on these human rights problems, as opposed to "congratulating the GOE on improvements." He expected Arab, OIC and African states would flatter the GOE during their interventions.

6.(C) XXXXXXXXXXXX urged coordinated western efforts following the February 17 session to urge the GOE to accept as many substantive recommendations as possible, and to secure GOE-agreed timelines for implementing these recommendations. He said the NGO community plans to use the recommendations to pressure the GOE over the next two years to implement specific reforms. XXXXXXXXXXXX acknowledged NGOs have modest expectations for the February 17 session, but asserted that countries' recommendations will be a test of the UPR process' credibility. SCOBEY

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