In Egypt, Canadian bank teller Mohamed el-Attar is facing 15 years in jail on spy charges he says he confessed to under torture. Human rights groups say prisoner abuse is routine in the North African country.Oh, Amnesty Intl. is the one to voice disagreements on this. They're just as bad and phony, so what's the use?
In New York yesterday, Egypt won an uncontested seat on the 47-member United Nations Human Rights Council, which is meant to defend the rights of the vulnerable worldwide.
What part of this equation doesn't compute?
"Things like this leave one worried that all the fine things said last year when the council was created aren't being played out in practice," says Alex Neve, who heads Amnesty International's Canadian office.
More than a dozen human rights groups asked the 192-country General Assembly not to vote for Egypt in yesterday's election to fill 14 seats on the Geneva-based council, charging that the country's record "is full of serious human rights violations that have been practised widely for long years."Yes, sadly, it has.
They named torture, arbitrary detention, election rigging and the use of military courts for trying civilians as reasons not to back Cairo's bid.
Critics cite Egypt's win – along with Qatar and Angola, with similarly dubious human rights records – as a sign that the council, created last year to replace the politically charged UN Human Rights Commission which had become known as "the abuser's club," is already irrelevant.
"Sadly... the new council has not been an improvement over the much-derided commission," said a report from Geneva-based UN Watch.
"In some ways it has even been worse."