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Arab Organization for Human Rights (AOHR) Launch its 30th Annual Report

Cairo in February 18th, 2017

 

Arab Organization for Human Rights (AOHR)

Launch its 30th Annual Report

The Status of Human Rights in the Arab World

2015 – 2016

1

      The Arab Organization for Human Rights (AOHR) has issued today the 30th Annual Report on the Status of Human Rights in the Arab Region, the report covers the time period between mid 2015 and December 2016.

The Report presents and analyzes the human rights developments in the Arab region from its different perspectives: Political, Legislations, Practices and Trends, the report is divided to two sections, the first section includes an Analytical Introduction covers in details the common factors and changes affected the human rights situation in the whole countries of the region, including the situation in the Armed Conflict Areas across the region in the context of Foreign Occupation and Civil Conflicts, and analyzes the Terrorism factor through its developments and the tries to provide answers and expectations to the main questions at this stage.

The analytical introduction gives attention to study and evaluate the general trends which governed the developments and the common policies and practices carried out by the Governments and other political actors.

Section Two covers the Status of Human Rights in 21 Arab Countries, including: Jordan, UAE, Bahrain, Tunisia, Algeria, Djibouti, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Syria, Somalia, Iraq, Oman, Palestine, Qatar, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Egypt, Morocco, Mauritania and Yemen.

The Report evaluate the situation in each country through monitoring the development and practices in the field of protecting Basic Rights (Life – Freedom – Fair Trial – Treating of Prisoners and Detainees), and in the field of Public Freedoms (Expression – Assembly – Association – Participation), with indicators and documented incidents, proving the findings of the report.

The main concern of the Report goes to the situation of the Human Rights Defenders which has become the main target to all the Political Actors, such concern is deeply attached to the pressure of the Civil Society in general, and restrictions affected the public Freedoms badly.

The Arabic Version of the report is available at:

http://aohr.net/portal/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/كتاب-التقرير-السنوي-لعام-2016.pdf

The AOHR is working these days to prepare the English Version, as well as organizing a Symposium to present and discuss the contents and findings of the report

Arab Oraganizaion for Human Rights (AOHR)

Phone  002 02 24181396

Fax  002 02 24185346

Email  INFO@AOHR.NET    AOHRARAB@GMAIL.COM

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Preface

Events of 2016 came contrary to expectations of the last quarter of 2015. The direct military intervention of major powers in “bleeding” Syria did not put an end to the bloodshed and the mayhem exacerbated there.

Al Sokhairat Agreement signed by Libyan factions, under an international sponsorship, failed to signal the end of chaos that worsened and led to more divisions and further fragmentation.

Hopes that fighting or negotiations might play a role in terminating the process of destruction of the collapsing Yemen dwindled.

While Daesh (ISIS) terrorism expanded in Iraq within a few days in mid-2014, the Iraqi government managed to progressively but slowly confront, resulting in a mounting trend of sectarian crimes that were as brutal and atrocious as the crimes committed by the terrorist organization.

After decades of bitter civil armed conflicts, the situation is the Sudan and Somalia is still the same. Still, it is not possible to count victims there or monitor the alarming impacts on the future of the two countries in view of the current political blundering.

In Egypt and Tunisia, that survived the storm of the international and regional attempts to manipulate their revolutions, challenges of terrorism coupled with international economic conditions, led to decline of aspirations. The realization of popular aspirations bolstered by constitutional entitlements is still farfetched.

The Palestinian Cause slipped into the shadows at this stage when the Israeli occupation enjoys a cover provided by the extensive turmoil in the region and the deep Arab engagement in the internal issues in each country. Furthermore, the philosophy that governs some Arab ruling regimes in the region is the focus on sectarian conflicts. The official Arab action has little impact on the Palestinian cause and it is confined to routine statements that enticed the new US Administration (2017) to conclude the conspiracy of moving the US Embassy to the occupied Arab Jerusalem.

Though the period covered by the report witnessed a remarkable progress in women’s participation on the political level in particular, the progress does not indicate that there is a serious political will to support this participation. Rather, it indicates the need to support ruling regimes at times of wild political changes.

In view of the extensive, complicated and intricate regional turmoil, and fears of unexpected change of the maps of the region, all Arab countries suffered from conflicts and their repercussions or at least from terrorism.  If a country has not suffered from tangible acts of terrorism, it would have undertaken security and judicial moves aiming to avert the specter of terrorism. This led the security institutions to confuse political opposition with terrorism and short sentences of objection with cybercrimes.

The report takes interest in the changes of the map of the active terrorist organizations in the region as these transformations have a strong impact on the instant change of the political maps on the one hand, and are used as a pretext to stifle public freedoms in lieu of enhancing social structures and developing the civil state capabilities on the other.

It has been the norm in Arab countries that human rights, as a fact and guarantees, become an easy prey of the considerations of maintaining security and stability and the claims of keeping the wheel of production running at any pace. It seems that the official circles have not yet learned the lessons of this gloomy era.

One of the worst features of the period covered by the report is that the Arab human rights activists have become the target of crimes. They have become victims of murder, kidnapping, security prosecutions, trials, punitive detention, and defamation campaigns. The trend of restricting the freedom of NGOs with legislations that are going against the movement of history is on the rise.

The Arab governments have not realized that they should answer a question related to how consistent  are their negative measures against human rights activists and others under the claim of protecting the national state and satisfying the security and development requirements. These governments did not spend enough time to consider how those measures respond to their actual requirements related to alignment between cessation of the wicked foreign interventions and the solidarity of the internal front which cannot be realized except through securing the rights of citizenship, equality, indiscrimination, justice, equity, and developing the feeling of dignity.

Using the pretext of fear of terrorism loses its significance when restrictions are imposed on the civil society, on top of which come the human rights groups. A healthy civil society should only support human rights. Only then the civil society can become the most vital factor in raising civil awareness, as well as curbing and eradicating terrorism. In the absence of a healthy civil society, anti -terrorism measures shall move in a vicious circle and all parties shall fail to fulfill common objectives and would finally lead to a total fiasco.

The authors of the report noted that the problem facing ‘human rights advocates ‘, in particular, does not relate to the availability of sources, or difficult access to information . The problem lies in the abundance of information combined with the need to understand and demystify their ambiguous contradiction. The issue is escalating in view of the current state of political polarization, growing social tension, and entrenching in the tunnel of old stands. As a result, there will be no room for logic or facts; impressions shall prevail.

Hence, we have to give credit to great intellectual Mr. Mohsen Awad, and our colleagues, members of the team that prepared the report and exerted strenuous efforts to complete the 30th edition of the annual report. We also extend our thanks to a large number of fighters, especially our colleagues ,members of the Board of Trustees, heads and staff of the branches and affiliate organizations, members and staff of other organizations for their precious contributions in reviewing and editing information and providing the documentation requirements.

It is needless to say that this report does not contain all information available in documentation archives of the Organization, but it only contains examples that prove the validity of the analysis of the scene and specify its characteristics and challenges.

In addition to the objective of the annual report, namely to acquaint and draw the attention of the decision- makers, legislators, researchers and experts to the key issues, impediments and priorities, the Arab Organization for Human Rights aspires that this report shall be a value-added to the Arab publications concerned with public affairs. Hopefully, this report, together with previous annual reports, shall represent                     a reference to document and historically  track of the social and legal transformations in the Arab world from a human rights perspective.

Alaa Shalabi

Secretary General

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Editor’s Introduction  

    This is the 30th edition of the annual report issued by the Arab Organization for Human Rights ever since 1987. It symbolizes the institutional nature of the Organization administered by officials, professionals, researchers and activists. It also stands for the knowledge accumulation provided by the frequency of issuance of those reports, accompanied by rich studies and serious assessment discussions.

    It was supposed that the task of preparing this report would be easier, given the

abundant resources, and precise outcomes not just because of the accumulation of knowledge and experiences, but due to the ongoing development of means of communications that made a wide range or resources accessible as well as the emergence of new generations of human rights organizations, serious researchers and activists, and the leakage of documents that would not have been accessible before decades. Unfortunately, this was not the case. This report was one of the most challenging annual reports of the Organization due to the politicization of information, divergence of points of views regarding current affairs and media bedlam.

     Challenges facing the report preparation were not only confined to the Arab Organization for Human Rights, but also extended to a large number of periodical or specialized, international, regional and national reports. The reports of UN missions to areas in armed conflicts which are unmatched in terms of the efforts exerted, resources available well as presence in the heart of events, do not surprise anymore if they add at the end a phrase that reads “the mission did not have the chance to verify these news”. There is also a great discrepancy in the numbers of casualties announced by various UN agencies.

    This phenomenon may be partly attributed to some technical considerations or field difficulties.  However, the most critical issue is the desire of some countries to mislead others and misrepresent facts. We shall not shed light here on the report of the Quartet on the Palestinian cause which was exposed by the resignation of the UN envoy to the occupied Palestinian territories General Alvaro De Soto in May 2007 in protest of the practices of this Committee, or the British investigations regarding the UK participation in invasion of Iraq. However, I appeal to the reader to consider the Palestinian report on the Israeli aggression against Gaza Strip in the summer of 2014 and the practices of the occupation forces to prevent the Human Rights Council from fulfilling its task; the international pressures it exercised, that mounted to direct threats against  William Schabas, a prominent Canadian human rights activist and chairman of the human rights investigation committee.

    This report covers the period from mid-2015, the point at which the previous report of the Organization stopped, till the end of 2016. It is a period that was abundant with ambiguous events, due to the crimes committed, parties involved, and current and future outcomes. The report was not mistaken when it described the situation as a small-scale third world war taking place on Arab territories. One third of the world countries take part in one way or another through bilateral or collective alliances. The said war aims to restructure the regional and international balance of power.

    This context changed the chapterization of this report, dividing it into two main sections; the first of which presents an overall analysis of the scene, while the other is presents country reports. The third section of the report was merged into the first section on the overall analysis to secure the linkage between the development of key events and their results.

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