Concluding observations of the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination
COMMITTEE ON THE ELIMINATION
OF RACIAL DISCRIMINATION
30 July - 17 August 2001
The Committee considered the thirteenth, fourteenth, fifteenth and sixteenth periodic reports of Egypt, which were due on 4 January 1994, 1996, 1998 and 2000, respectively, submitted as one document (CERD/C/384/Add.3), at its 1484th and 1485th meetings (CERD/C/SR.1484 and 1485), on 10 and 13 August 2001. At its 1489th meeting (CERD/C/SR.1489), on 15 August 2001, it adopted the following concluding observations.
The Committee welcomes the thirteenth, fourteenth, fifteenth and sixteenth periodic reports as well as the additional information that the State party’s delegation provided during its oral presentation and in writing, and expresses its appreciation for the opportunity to renew its dialogue with the State party after seven years.
The Committee welcomes the detailed and comprehensive report submitted by the State party, which provides ample information particularly on the legal order. The Committee furthermore notes that the report has been drawn up in accordance with the Committee’s revised guidelines and responds to many questions raised during the examination of the previous report in 1994. The additional oral information provided by the delegation in response to questions asked by Committee members is also appreciated.
B. Positive aspects
The Committee considers as very positive the significant role of the Supreme Constitutional Court in the judicial system of the State party in upholding human rights and constitutional guarantees, particularly with regard to the protection of equal rights, as well as the prevention and elimination of discrimination.
The Committee welcomes the fact that, pursuant to article 151 of the Constitution, international instruments, including the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, form part of the domestic legal system and can be invoked directly before the courts. Furthermore, access to the Supreme Constitutional Court is guaranteed so as to enable citizens to challenge the constitutionality of any domestic provision.
The Committee notes with satisfaction that the Supreme Constitutional Court defines racial discrimination in terms very close to the definition given by the Convention.
The Committee welcomes the significant efforts made by the State party to ensure that its development strategy is implemented without any discrimination on racial grounds and that it is equitable in its reach, covering all regions of the country.
The Committee welcomes the initiatives taken by the Government in the area of human rights education in schools and universities and notes the efforts undertaken by the State party to teach and promote a culture of human rights, tolerance and peace. The Committee encourages such efforts and hopes the State party will continue along this path.
C. Concerns and recommendations
Although noting the view of the State party as to the homogeneity of its population, the absence of notable ethnic minorities, and the existence of some numerically small ethnic groups, including nomads, Berbers and Nubians, as well as Egyptians of Greek and Armenian origin, the Committee recommends the State party to provide information on these groups, in particular economic and social indicators reflecting their situation, including their participation in public life and the preservation of their culture.
The Committee remains concerned that the legislation of the State party does not seem to respond fully to the requirements of article 4 of the Convention, specifically article 4 (a), which requires States parties to declare as an offence punishable by law all dissemination of ideas based on racial superiority or hatred, incitement to racial discrimination, as well as all acts of violence or incitement to such acts against any race or group of persons of another colour or ethnic origin.
The Committee notes that defamation as well as acts of violence or the threat to use violence are punishable by law, but there is no legal provision making ethnic or racial motivation for such acts an aggravating circumstance. The Committee recommends that the State party review its domestic legislation in the light of the provisions of article 4 of the Convention so as to give effect to all its requirements, as stated by the State party during the consideration of its previous report.
The Committee expresses its concern at the nationality law, which prevents an Egyptian mother married to a foreigner from passing on her nationality to her children. The Committee is also concerned that children born to Egyptian mothers and foreign fathers are faced with discrimination in the field of education. The Committee takes note of the promise of the State party to revise the nationality law, which discriminates against children born to Egyptian women married to non-nationals, so as to bring it into line with the provisions of the Convention and requests to be informed in the next report.
The Committee recommends that the State party continue its efforts to train all personnel working in the field of criminal justice and law enforcement officials in the spirit of respect for human rights and non-discrimination on ethnic or racial grounds.
The Committee recommends that the State party resolve the difficulties relating to the registration of some non-governmental organizations dealing with the promotion and protection of human rights which are working in particular to combat racial discrimination.
The Committee notes the absence in the report of references to the contribution of non-governmental organizations in the preparation of the report, and encourages the State party to collaborate with non-governmental organizations during the preparation of the next periodic report.
Noting that the State party is in the process of considering the establishment of a National Council for Human Rights in accordance with the Paris Principles concerning the establishment and functioning of national institutions for human rights (General Assembly resolution 48/134), the Committee recommends that steps be taken to accelerate this process and requests the State party to provide information on the powers and functions of this institution in its next periodic report.
The State party is invited to provide further information in its next periodic report on the following issues: (a) relevant cases relating to racial discrimination before Egyptian courts, and the decisions taken; (b) the economic and social situation of numerically small ethnic groups, including access to education and the preservation of their culture; (c) data on foreigners and their situation in the country; (d) results of academic studies and surveys on numerically small ethnic groups.
It is noted that the State party has not made the optional declaration provided for in article 14 of the Convention, and the Committee recommends that the possibility of such a declaration be considered.
The Committee recommends that the State party ratify the amendments to article 8, paragraph 6, of the Convention, adopted on 15 January 1992 at the Fourteenth Meeting of States Parties to the Convention.
The Committee recommends that the State party’s reports be made readily available to the public from the time they are submitted and that the Committee’s observations on them be similarly publicized.
The Committee recommends that the State party submit its seventeenth periodic report jointly with its eighteenth periodic report, due on 4 January 2004, and that it addresses all points raised in the present observations.
Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights