Friday, June 27, 2008

Resolution 1303 at U.S. Congress is calling on the Egyptian Government to respect human rights and freedoms of religion and expression in Egypt

US Congress
June 24, 2008

The Resolution 1303 is calling on the Egyptian Government to respect human rights and freedoms of religion and expression in Egypt.

Whereas the promotion of respect for democracy, human rights, and civil liberties are fundamental principles and aims of the United States;

Whereas the United States attaches great importance to relations with Egypt and considers fair and transparent elections as the only way to make progress towards a more democratic society;

Whereas Egypt plays a significant role in the Middle East peace process and in the fight against international terrorism and fundamentalism;

Whereas the Egyptian authorities have promised to put an end to the imprisonment of journalists and bloggers, but this promise has so far gone unfulfilled;

Whereas Shiites, Koranists, Jehovah's Witnesses, and other religious minorities are harassed, arrested, and imprisoned by security services;

Whereas all Baha'i institutions and community activities have been banned in Egypt since 1960, and members of the Baha'i faith are denied government required identification cards solely due to their religious affiliation;

Whereas material vilifying Jews appears regularly in the state controlled and semi official media;
Whereas the Copts, Egypt's largest religious minority group and the largest Christian population in the Middle East, suffer from many forms of discrimination, including--

A lack of employment in higher positions of the public sector, universities, army, and the security service;

Disproportional representation in Parliament and Shura Council;

Difficulty in building and repairing churches;

lack of protection and lack of prosecution of perpetrators in cases of sectarian violence;

Government harassment of converts to Christianity while the government encourages conversion to Islam; and

The inability to obtain government issued identification cards which reflect conversion to Christianity;

Whereas the recent arrests and action against nongovernmental organizations and human rights defenders undermines the commitments entered into by the Egyptian Government concerning fundamental rights and freedoms and the democratic process in the country: Now, therefore, be it Resolved, That the House of Representatives--

Recognizes that respect for human rights is a fundamental value, and the bilateral relationship between the United States and Egypt should be a platform for promoting the rule of law and fundamental freedoms;

Calls on the Egyptian Government to end all forms of harassment, including judicial measures, the detention of media professionals and, more generally, human rights defenders and activists calling for reforms and to fully respect freedom of expression, in conformity with article 19 of the United Nations International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights;

Encourages the Egyptian Government to honor its commitment to repeal the state of emergency in order to allow for the full consolidation of the rule of law in Egypt;

Encourages the Egyptian Government to take the steps necessary to fully implement and protect the rights of religious minorities as full citizens;

strongly supports measures to guarantee academic freedom, freedom of the media, and freedom of religion or belief in Egypt, including by ending arbitrary administrative measures, such as those taken against the Centre for Trade Union and Workers' Services and the Association for Human Rights Legal Aid;

stresses the need for respect and protection of the freedoms of thought, conscience, and religion as ensured in article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, article 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and the 1981 United Nations Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of Intolerance and of Discrimination based on Religion and Belief;

Urges the President and the Secretary of State to put human rights and religious freedom developments in Egypt very high on the United States Government's agenda during meetings with Egyptian officials.

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