US rights group charges Egypt with abusing UNHRC voting rights

US-based human rights watchdog Freedom House has accused Egypt of misusing its voting rights in the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC).

In a report devoted to assessing the 12th through 14th sessions of the UNHRC, Freedom House described Egypt as an "authoritarian regime" that frequently attempted to bring political pressure to bear on UNHRC resolutions.

“The world’s democracies–particularly in Africa, Asia and Latin America–continue to follow the lead of highly repressive countries like Egypt, China and Cuba,” the report reads. "These authoritarian states invest tremendous energy and resources in the council and exert strong political pressure on other countries in their regions or spheres of influence."

The report also noted that Egypt was among states that attempted to restrict the activities of local NGOs and dilute the role of independent human rights advocates during council sessions.

“In the last year, legislation restricting the activities of NGOs was adopted in Ethiopia, Gabon and Jordan," the report states. "And similar measures are being considered in Cambodia and Egypt.”

The report goes on to charge Egypt–along with countries such as Bangladesh, China and Iran–with attempting to "water down the [council's] mandate by changing the definition of human rights defender, stating that many individuals misuse the term for their own advantage.”

Egyptian rights advocates, meanwhile, agree with the report’s findings regarding the harmful role played by Egypt within the UNHRC.

“Egypt plays a negative role in the UNHRC by abusing its regional relations and coordinating with other oppressive states,” Gamal Eid, head of the Cairo-based Arab Network for Human Rights Information, said.

“Egypt, along with Saudi Arabia, tries its best to hinder the activities of independent and local human rights organizations, whether in the UNHRC or in other international bodies,” added  Eid, whose organization–in its capacity as independent rights advocate–is allowed a two-minute commentary at UNHRC sessions.

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