National Human Rights Council meets with security officials

The National Council for Human Rights (NCHR) yesterday received for the first time the heads of human rights departments from Egypt's security directorates. The meeting was part of an annual conference organized by the Ministry of Interior for the officials.

Due to finish on Thursday, the conference was attended by Moqbil Shaker, the NCHR’s vice president, Mahmoud Karem, secretary-general for the council, and council members Ahmed Haggag and Layla Tekla.

The Ministry of the Interior's director of media and public relations sector, Brigadier General Hany Abdel Latif, said the ministry had established its departments for human rights with the aim of activating and promoting a culture of human rights. He added that the department heads meet annually to discuss relevant issues.

Shaker detailed how the NCHR promotes respect for human rights and aims to curb violations committed at a number of police departments. He said the council includes a section for receiving complaints, and stressed that the body's efforts focus not only on the Ministry of the Interior, but also deal with other ministries in a way that ensures people’s rights to a good environment, health, and education.

Meanwhile, Haggag said the council aims to have a presence in all provinces, and plans to provide police officers with training courses in the field of human rights.

Karem welcomed the security officials, emphasizing the ministry’s eagerness to fully cooperate with the council. He revealed that council-run buses are being sent to the governorates to collect citizens' complaints and pass them on to concerned authorities. The Ministry of the Interior is the target of most of the complaints, he added.

Karem also noted that the council will carry outreach throughout Egypt in order to track potential violations during the upcoming elections. He stressed that the Ministry of Interior is the most responsive to complaints, with a 90 percent response rate.

Takla meanwhile assured that human rights violations are being thoroughly detected, and mentioned that the Egyptian cabinet devoted its session on Monday to discuss the NCHR’s report on 2009, directing all ministries to respond to all complaints highlighted.

Brigadier General Hossam Yahya, human rights director at the Cairo security directorate, said only six violations were reported concerning his department, which deals with 15 million citizens. He described the rate as “very positive.”   

His counterpart in Alexandria, Abdel Sattar Bureiq, said his department had received 170 complaints over the past five months, which, he said, were handled immediately.

The meeting’s opening discussions concentrated on cases involving police officers, such as physical torture and bureaucratic indolence. Discussions later shifted to the Ministry of the Interior’s role in securing the upcoming elections, on which topic participants concurred regarding the necessity to respect monitors bearing an NCHR badge.

Translated from the Arabic Edition.

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