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Viewing cable 09CAIRO1948, INDEPENDENT NGO COALITION FOR UPR REPORT SPLINTERS

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
09CAIRO1948 2009-10-13 15:03 2011-02-16 21:09 SECRET Embassy Cairo
VZCZCXRO8745
RR RUEHROV
DE RUEHEG #1948/01 2861557
ZNY SSSSS ZZH
R 131557Z OCT 09
FM AMEMBASSY CAIRO
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 3852
INFO RUEHXK/ARAB ISRAELI COLLECTIVE
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC
RUEHGV/USMISSION GENEVA 0455
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK 0310
S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 02 CAIRO 001948 
 
SIPDIS 
 
FOR NEA/ELA, DRL/NESCA AND IO/RHS 
GENEVA FOR CASSAYRE 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 10/13/2029 
TAGS: PREL PGOV PHUM UN EG
SUBJECT: INDEPENDENT NGO COALITION FOR UPR REPORT SPLINTERS 
 
REF: A. CAIRO 1925 
     B. CAIRO 1850 
     C. CAIRO 1433 
     D. CAIRO 814 
 
Classified By: Economic-Political Minister-Counselor 
Donald A. Blome for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d). 
 
1. KEY POINTS 
 
-- (C) The coalition of independent NGOs formed to submit a 
September report for the February 2010 UN Human Rights 
Council Universal Periodic Review (UPR) splintered following 
disagreements over using legal versus "political" language in 
the introduction. 
 
-- (C) The Egyptian Organization for Human Rights' (EOHR) 
leak to the press of disagreements over tone while 
negotiations were ongoing has created tensions with the 
coalition chair, The Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies. 
 
-- (U) A third NGO, Maat, assembled a coalition of 49 
organizations to submit another report that highlights 
specific cases of human rights violations. 
 
-- (C) The quasi-governmental National Council for Human 
Rights (NCHR) submitted a report calling for many of the 
advances it has recommended in the past on issues such as the 
Emergency Law, combating torture and increasing freedom of 
expression.  A prominent NCHR member told us he hoped the 
February UPR would help create momentum for reform. 
 
2. (S) Comment:  The overall substance of the three 
independent NGO reports appears to be similar, and a single 
report probably would have brought more civil society 
coherence and weight to the UPR.  EOHR's leak to a newspaper 
widely thought to be controlled by Interior Ministry State 
Security (SSIS) that it could not agree to the report's tone 
indicates that the organization wanted to protect its 
equities with SSIS, especially since the disagreement 
centered on characterizing Egypt as a "police state."  Other 
NGOs have expressed concern in previous years that EOHR has 
provided too much information to SSIS about private, 
sensitive conversations.  End comment. 
 
----------------------------------- 
Independent NGO Coalition Splinters 
----------------------------------- 
 
3. (C) In September, independent NGOs and the 
quasi-governmental National Council for Human Rights (NCHR) 
submitted reports to the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) for 
the February 2010 Universal Periodic Review of Egypt's 
"fulfillment of its human rights obligations and 
commitments."  While the Cairo Institute for Human Rights 
Studies (CIHRS) originally intended to organize a coalition 
of independent NGOs to submit a single, overall report, the 
Egyptian Organization for Human Rights (EOHR) publicly broke 
from the coalition, and a third NGO, Maat, assembled its own 
separate coalition.  As the only Egyptian human rights NGO 
with an office in Geneva to expressly monitor the UN Human 
Rights Council, CIHRS aimed since the early summer to head a 
single NGO coalition that would submit an overall report. 
 
4. (C) However, in early September, EOHR Secretary-General 
Hafez Abu Seada told the Interior Ministry State Security 
(SSIS)-linked daily, "Rose Al Youssef," that he was leaving 
the coalition due to disagreements over the report's tone. 
In mid-September Abu Seada told us he left the CIHRS 
coalition based on disagreements with the report's 
introductory language.  He objected to language describing 
Egypt as a "police state," and favored "objective, legal" 
language over "judgmental" characterizations in the text, 
such as "immoral MFA practices."  He believed that the UN UPR 
context necessitated using "the language of international 
law." 
 
5. (C) CIHRS Director Bahey Al-Din Hassan told us in early 
October that he wanted the report to underline the GOE's lack 
of political will to enact human rights reforms.  "The 
problem is not due to a lack of legislation," he asserted. 
Hassan criticized the EOHR and Maat reports as "too 
legalistic," and limited by not addressing extra-legal steps 
by the Interior Ministry to interfere with NGOs.  Hassan said 
that while he was trying to close the gap between EOHR's 
positions and the rest of the coalition, Abu Seada leaked the 
disagreement to the press in "breach" of the coalition's 
 
CAIRO 00001948  002 OF 002 
 
 
agreement not to air differences publicly. 
 
6. (C) Hassan noted that the coalition will not release its 
report publicly until the GOE submits its own report by 
November 8.  He explained that this decision is aimed at not 
allowing the GOE to counter the NGO coalition's points, and 
at avoiding further publicity over the "controversy" with 
EOHR.  Hassan declined to provide us with a copy of the 
report, per the coalition's agreement, but noted that it 
focuses on torture, restrictions on freedom of expression, 
discrimination against religious minorities and SSIS 
infringement on civil liberties.  Hassan told us that SSIS 
had requested a copy of the report October 4, but he had 
refused.  He expected that SSIS would be able to steal the 
report from his e-mail system. 
 
7. (C) Hassan had "low expectations" for the February UPR 
session, and predicted that Egypt's allies would help the GOE 
deflect most substantive criticism.  He wondered whether the 
U.S. had agreed to "go easy" on Egypt in the UPR process in 
return for GOE cooperation on the UNHRC freedom of expression 
resolution in September.  We responded that there is no such 
agreement. 
 
------------------------ 
Substance of the Reports 
------------------------ 
 
8. (U) EOHR's publicly released report criticizes the 
Emergency Law and the new draft counterterrorism law (ref A), 
which it asserts codifies human rights violations.  The 
report also takes issue with laws enabling torture, 
restricting freedom of assembly, press freedom, and the 
establishment of political parties and NGOs.  The Maat 
coalition report follows a format roughly similar to the 
State Department Human Rights Report, citing specific cases 
of human rights violations.  This report covers many of the 
same issues as the EOHR document, but contains an expanded 
section on socio-economic rights.  The quasi-governmental 
NCHR makes many of the recommendations in its May 2009 annual 
report (ref D), such as ending the Emergency Law, combating 
torture, increasing freedom of expression protections, and 
easing up on NGOs.  It recognizes some recent achievements, 
such as the 2008 Child Law Amendments, and calls for the GOE 
to improve economic, social and cultural rights. 
 
----------- 
NCHR Report 
----------- 
 
9. (C) NCHR member Hossam Badrawi who chaired the UPR report 
drafting committee told us in mid-September that "some in the 
GOE got very angry over the report."  (Note: Per ref B, 
Badrawi is also a member of the Shura Council and the 
influential National Democratic Party (NDP) policies 
committee.  End note.)  Badrawi downplayed expectations for 
GOE action before February, saying he does not expect the 
passage of any significant legislation, but he hopes for 
positive GOE "statements" on human rights.  He praised the 
transparent UPR process as positive for the GOE's 
"credibility," and hoped that NDP reformers would be able to 
take advantage of the UPR session in February to generate 
momentum for positive change.  He described NCHR's outreach 
to 156 NGOs throughout the country to prepare the report. 
Separately, MFA Deputy Director for Human Rights Omar Shalaby 
told us the MFA found the NCHR report "mostly objective, 
largely accurate and non-provocative." 
Scobey