The Egyptian Organization for Human Rights
Notes from the 7th general assembly of the Egyptian Organization for Human Rights
1 July 1998The 7th general assembly of the Egyptian Organization for Human Rights (EOHR) was held on Friday 26 June 1998 The general assembly of the Egyptian Organization for Human Rights (EOHR) was held on 26 June 1998 at the Egyptian Press Union. The assembly was attended by 373 members out of 650 members who paid their membership fees. This number constituted a percentage of 57.39% of the total number of those who had the right to attend the assembly. The general assembly started by electing Mr. Ahmed Obied, head of the research and publications unit at the Arab Lawyers Union, as a chairman; engineer Mohsin Hashim and Mr. Hassan Soliman as secretaries. The following agenda was adopted: 1. Discussion of the report presented by the Board of Trustees 2. Approval of the budget and final accounts report 3. Election of a new board of trustees 4. Others (human rights situation in Egypt and the EOHR work prospective) The assembly revised the activity report presented by the board of trustees over the period June 1995 – May 1998, and examined the general budget and the statements on revenues and expenditure of the organization in the years 1995, 1996, and 1997. The discussions were held in a democratic climate. The participants praised the efforts made by the Board of Trustees and stressed the importance of the role of the EOHR in protecting and reinforcing human rights and general freedoms in Egypt. They affirmed that this role must be developed and enhanced on local, regional and international levels. They pointed out that the EOHR was established upon the will of its members, and has performed its role effectively in spite of all the difficulties and obstacles it faced. The participants cited the role of the organization in monitoring human rights violations and in providing protection, offering legal assistance, trying to improve civil and political rights, and in supporting prisoners of opinion and conscience in Egypt. They demanded that the organization must pay more attention to economic, social and cultural rights, and try to find the means that would reinforce these rights. The participants demanded that the board of trustees must activate the role of the organization and try to find proper solutions to the problems accumulated since it was established. In this regard, the general assembly approved the following as guidelines for the new board of trustees: To conduct an assessment of the work of the EOHR and its branches: its activities in Egypt and its international relations. This is to be done by inviting experts from the United Nations Center for Human Rights as well as from regional and international human rights organizations to conduct such an assessment and make a report on the current situation of the EOHR and propose strategies for future work. To organize an extended workshop which would include Egyptian and Arab experts, as well as representatives of the international, Arab and local, if any, funding organizations in order to hold an extended discussion of the assessment report To prepare for an extraordinary general assembly to discuss and approve work strategies for the coming century. The participants recommended that the board of trustees would seek to realize the most participation possible by regional members of the EOHR, to start an educational and training program to develop the skills of the activists among the members. They also recommended that the board would seek to develop the relation with other human rights centers and to maintain the role of the organization as an effective national framework in the field of human rights. The participants noted that over the period 1996-1998, the board of trustees did not meet regularly due to lack of quorum, and that no executive bureau was nominated; a situation which hindered many of the activities and led to a monopoly of the decision-making process. In this regard, the general assembly called on the new board to commit to hold regular meetings and to nominate an executive bureau in order to help the organization work more effectively. It also stressed the importance of holding discussions to amend the current statutes of the EOHR so that to fill this gap and deal with the problem of non-attendance of meetings by the board members. Organizational decisions and recommendations Two different points of view were expressed in this regard. One group believed that the door must be immediately opened for new memberships, whereas the other group believed that this matter must be tackled with objectivity and flexibility and that there must be a from of affiliated membership in addition to the working membership in order not to inundate the organization in political conflicts and regional lobbying. The general assembly concluded by calling on the board of trustees to include this matter into the agendas of the assessment process, the extended workshop and the extraordinary general assembly in order to deal with the problems which have accompanied the work of the EOHR since its establishment. With respect to funding policies and the approval of the budget and final accounts report The participants emphasized that financing the organization must by given proper attention, that funding sources must be diverse, and that Arab and Egyptian funding institutions must be sought as alternatives to foreign funding. They affirmed that in all cases, in accepting foreign funds, previous decisions made by the general assembly must be followed. These decisions affirmed that "Donations made by governments shall not be accepted. Only unconditioned funds which serve the objectives of the organization and do not lead to any interference in its activities, shall be accepted. No relations will be established with funding institutions which serve Israeli plans or the naturalization process with it." The participants made some comments on the budget and the final accounts report of the years 1995, 1996, before approving them. The general assembly then elected a new board of trustees, 15 members, out of 29 candidates. The elections resulted in the winning of the following candidates arranged according to the number of votes they obtained: Name No. of votes obtained 1 Yehya Al-Gamal 297 2 Mohammed Saleem El-Awwa 278 3 Hassanein Koroum 274 4 Abdel-Aziz Mohammed 266 5 Atif El-Banna 260 6 Saeed El-Gamal 251 7 Yasser Hassan 217 8 Abu El-Kassim El-Nobi 206 9 Ibrahim El-Sherbeni 205 10 Adel Eid 203 11 Hafez Abu- Se'da 200 12 Ahmed Abdel-Malik 177 13 Rida Tolba 160 14 Aymen Nour 156 15 Abdalla Abdel-Latif 154 Human rights situation in Egypt, and work prospective of the EOHR The general assembly called on the organization's board of trustees to address and deal with the problems and issues which were raised since the establishing of the organization, particularly those related to the nature of the organization, its orientations, membership, funding, and its relation with other civil associations in Egypt as well as with local, regional and international human rights organizations. The general assembly stressed that it is important to assess the past period through inviting experts from the United Nations and from Arab and international human rights organizations; to organize an extended workshop to suggest strategies for future work and address the problems faced by the organization; and to invite the general assembly for an extraordinary session to discuss and approve these strategies and programs. The general assembly called on the board of trustees to implement the decision issued by the fifth general assembly with respect to holding a national forum for democracy in collaboration with other organizations, centers, unions, and associations concerned with human rights. Such a forum would be a tool to exchange dialogues in order to settle disputes and reach mutual agreement on national policies and programs that would promote democracy, enhance human rights, deepen the respect for ideological plurality, tolerance, and understanding, discard violence and urge for more effective participation in the decision-making process on the national level. The general assembly thanked all members of the Egyptian Press Union for hosting the seventh general assembly. It expressed its wish that the Press would have every success in fulfilling its role in the promotion of human rights and basic freedoms. The general assembly expressed its appreciation of the Press Union effective cooperation with the EOHR for the protection of human rights. It expressed its deep solidarity with the journalists detained in relation to freedom of opinion and expression offences. It called upon the President of the Republic to use his constitutional powers to release the detained journalists. The general assembly thanked the secretary general, the members of the board of trustees and the executive staff of the EOHR for the distinguish effort they exerted over the past period, particularly in the preparation of the seventh general assembly.
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