Minister: Govt mulling electoral oversight

At a press conference Thursday, Minister of State for Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Moufid Shehab said the meeting of the UN Human Rights Council–slated for next week in Geneva, Switzerland–would discuss the human rights situation worldwide, not only in Egypt.

Shehab noted that questions commonly posed Egypt by foreign governments on the issue of human rights pertained to Egypt’s declared state of emergency; the anti-terrorism draft law; the practice of trying civilians before military tribunals; sectarian strife; press freedoms; capital punishment; violence against women; and international supervision of parliamentary and presidential elections.

On the latter subject, the minister said: "While I’m personally not in favor of the idea, the government is currently thinking about allowing certain international organizations and personalities to attend upcoming elections," he said. "But total supervision of voting and vote counting is unacceptable, since this would amount to an admission that there is a certain degree of electoral fraud."

On the human rights report that the government is expected to present to the council in Geneva, Shehab said: "The government has prepared a 20-page report focusing on efforts made in this regard. NGOs will also present a report, but they will not participate in discussions." These NGOs, he added, "tend to concentrate on the negative."

Shehab went on to deny the existence of sectarian strife in Egypt. "We may have a few extremist Muslim and Christian preachers who try to incite clashes," he said, "which means we need to do something about the current state of religious discourse."

The minister defended Egypt’s longstanding state of emergency, which he said was "necessary" due to the fact that Egypt faced "internal and external challenges."

Translated from the Arabic Edition.

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