Egyptian Government Must Fully Implement Recommendations of UN Migrants’ Rights Body

Press Release

30 April 2007

(Geneva, Cairo- 30 April 2007) The Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR) and the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) today urged the Egyptian Government to adopt immediate measures to implement the recommendations of the UN Committee on Migrant Workers (CMW).

Last week the CMW met in Geneva where it examined the government’s first report on its implementation of the Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of their Families, ratified by Egypt in 1993. The EIPR and FIDH submitted a joint parallel report to the Committee and participated in the meeting.

Following the examination of the official report by its 10 independent experts, the Committee adopted its concluding observations, which called on the government to reopen the investigations into the killings of at least 27 Sudanese migrants on 30 December 2005 after security forces brutally dispersed a three-month peaceful sit-in by Sudanese migrants and asylum seekers in front of the offices of the UN High Commission of Refugees. In June 2006, the Public Prosecutor had closed the investigations into the killings without issuing any indictments.

The UN Committee also expressed its concern at the new anti-terrorism law, currently being drafted by the government, and its impact on domestic laws and international treaties. The Committee called on the government to train law-enforcement forces on human rights and non-discrimination on racial and ethnic grounds, and to “promptly investigate all complaints of torture or ill-treatment of migrant workers while in detention, and to prosecute and punish the perpetrators.”

During the examination last week the Committee questioned the official delegation, headed by Minister of Manpower and Migration Aisha Abdelhady, about the government’s decision last week to shut down the Center for Trade Unions and Workers’ Services, an Egyptian NGO providing legal assistance and awareness to workers and documenting labor rights violations. The Committee criticized the restrictions imposed by the NGOs Law no. 84 of 2002 on the activities of independent human rights organizations.

Moreover, the UN expert body called on the Egyptian Government to amend the Labor Code in order to extend legal protection to Egyptian and foreign domestic service workers, especially women, and to promptly investigate any allegations of ill-treatment or abuses committed against them.

In another significant conclusion the UN Committee criticized the government’s requirement that all foreign workers seeking permission to work in Egypt provide a certificate proving they are not infected with HIV or AIDS. The Committee called on the Egyptian Government to bring its policy in this area in line with the ILO Code of Practice on HIV/AIDS and the World of Work and the International Guidelines on HIV/AIDS and Human Rights. Both international documents stipulate that HIV testing should not be required at the time of recruitment.

With regards to the rights of Egyptian workers abroad, the Committee expressed its concern at the denial of voting rights for Egyptians residing abroad and called on the government to facilitate their exercise of these rights. The Committee also called on the government to assist Egyptian workers who are victims of the kafalah (sponsorship) system in the Gulf countries and to negotiate the abolishment of the system with those countries. The Kafalah system places Egyptian workers under the complete control of their local sponsor (Kafeel), in violation of the workers’ rights to liberty and freedom of movement.

The EIPR and FIDH reiterated that the Egyptian Government is under a legal obligation to fully implement the UN Committee’s recommendations since, under Article 151 of the Egyptian Constitution, the Migrant Workers Convention is considered part of Egypt’s domestic legislation. The two NGOs vowed to work in collaboration with other civil society organizations to monitor the implementation and follow-up to the recommendations.
For the full text of the concluding observations of the UN Committee on Migrant Workers.

For the EIPR-FIDH joint parallel report to the UN Committee on Migrant Workers (PDF file).

For more information:

Hossam Bahgat (Cairo), Director, Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights, +20 10 628 8928,

Simia Ahmadi (Geneva), UN Permanent Delegate, International Federation for Human Rights, +41 78 718 1646,