Egypt Parties Refuse To Commit To Women's Rights
CAIRO: Many Egyptian political parties, especially dominant Islamist groups, have refused to commit to protecting women's rights and to abolishing the death penalty, Amnesty International said on Tuesday.
"Most of the biggest Egyptian political parties have committed to delivering ambitious human rights reform in the country's transition, but have either given mixed signals or flatly refused to sign up to ending discrimination, protecting women's rights and to abolishing the death penalty," Amnesty said.
The London-based rights watchdog had contacted 54 parties running in Egypt's first post-revolution parliamentary elections to sign a "human rights manifesto" containing 10 key pledges.
"It is disturbing that a number of parties refused to commit to equal rights for women," said Philip Luther, Amnesty International's interim director for the Middle East and North Africa.
"With a handful of women taking up seats in the new parliament, there remain huge obstacles to women playing a full role in Egyptian political life," said Luther.
The Freedom and Justice Party, the political arm of the powerful Muslim Brotherhood, which won most seats in parliament, did not respond to meeting requests nor give feedback on the manifesto, Amnesty said.
The ultra-conservative Salafist Al-Nur party, which came second, "agreed orally to all pledges with the exception of the abolition of the death penalty and protection of women's rights," it said.
The Free Egyptians party, founded by telecom magnate Naguib Sawiris, did not respond to meeting requests nor comment on the manifesto.
Only two small parties, the Egyptian Social Democratic Party and the Popular Socialist Alliance Party, signed up to all the pledges which also include ending the state of emergency, combatting torture, ensuring fair trials and upholding freedom of association and expression.
Ten parties agreed to the majority of the pledges, but stopped short of committing to women's rights and/or discrimination, Amnesty said.
The first parliament since a popular uprising toppled Hosni Mubarak convened on Monday, with only 10 women deputies.
"We challenge the new parliament to use the opportunity of drafting the new constitution to guarantee all of these rights for all people in Egypt. The cornerstone must be non-discrimination and gender equality, Luther said.
Elections for parliament's upper house, the Shura Council, are to begin later this month and end in February. Then the two chambers will choose a 100-member panel to draft a new constitution.