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Cairo Mulls to Hold Anti-Torture Conference Despite UN Move

Cairo Mulls to Hold Anti-Torture Conference Despite UN Move

Thursday, 22 August, 2019 - 07:00
File photo of Egyptian security forces. Amr Abdallah Dalsh/Reuters

Egypt is mulling to host a regional conference on 'Defining and Criminalizing Torture in Legislation in the Arab Region,” early next month, despite a decision from the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights to postpone it following an outcry from rights groups.

Member of Egypt's National Council for Human Rights (NCHR) Hafez Abu Saeda told Asharq Al-Awsat on Wednesday that Cairo has not been ruled out as a host of the gathering.

He said a meeting of the Council is expected soon to discuss the possibilities of either holding the conference on time, even without the participation of the UN agency, or negotiate with the UN another date.

UNCHR was to co-host the regional conference with NCHR on September 4 and 5. However, it announced on Tuesday that the gathering had been postponed after a wave of criticism from human rights activists on what they said were rights "violations" against opposition members.

Spokesman for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Rupert Colville said on Tuesday that the UN had chosen to postpone the conference due to "growing unease in some parts of the NGO community with the choice of location."

"We have decided to postpone the conference and reopen the process of consultation with all relevant actors,” he said.

However, Abu Saeda said the event is particularly important for discussing a core case: torture in the Arab region in the attendance of 19 Arab states.

He asked the human rights community, which called on the UN to “explicitly cancel or reallocate the event to another country,” to withdraw its demands that do not serve human rights.

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