For Immediate Release: June 21, 2012
New York City – As confusion and uncertainty continue to mount in Egypt over the postponement of the official results in the presidential run-off election, Human Rights First today calls on the U.S. government to use all its influence with Egyptian authorities to stress the importance of the ruling military council moving forward with its pledge to hand over power to an elected civilian government.
“Delays only fuel rumors and instability and heighten the risk of political violence. It is irresponsible to prolong such uncertainty at a time of escalating political tensions,” said Human Rights First’s Neil Hicks.
Human Rights First notes that it is now clear that the SCAF will not live up to its pledge to hand over power to an elected civilian government by June 30. The organization called the development a serious failure for which the SCAF bears full responsibility.
“From the early days of Egypt’s transition from the 30 year Mubarak dictatorship the SCAF has resisted calls to install a civilian transitional authority and to dilute its grip on power,” noted Hicks.
On June 17, the SCAF issued constitutional amendments that expanded its powers.
Human Rights First observes that there can be no return to military-backed authoritarianism in Egypt. The Obama Administration should urge the SCAF to:
- Provide a firm timeline for the drafting of a new constitution, its approval by referendum and the holding of new parliamentary elections to replace the parliament dissolved by the SCC last week.
- Support the formation of a constituent assembly to draft the new constitution that reflects a broad range of political opinion and in particular ensure representation for women, and representatives of religious minorities.
- Provide all necessary support and resources for the development of a new constitution that expands civilian control over the military and in particular provides for public scrutiny of the military budget.
- While the SCAF remains in effective control of the country it must uphold the basic rights and freedoms of all Egyptians. It must protect rights of freedom of assembly and ensure that protesters are not abused. It should not detain peaceful protesters. It must uphold freedom of expression and protect the rights of religious minorities. It should end the persecution of independent civil society organizations, including the ongoing criminal investigations and prosecution of several human rights and democracy promotion organizations.
“The status quo in Egypt is not sustainable and the Obama Administration must use its influence to prevail on the SCAF to restart Egypt’s stalled transition,” concluded Hicks.