The following information reports U.S. Government priorities and activities of the U.S. mission in the Republic of Egypt to promote democracy and human rights. For background on Egypt's human rights conditions, please see the 2009 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices
and the International Religious Freedom Reports
Part 1: U.S. Government Democracy Objectives
Through programming and advocacy, the U.S. Government supports efforts to improve electoral processes at the national and local levels, build a more robust civil society, address human rights problems, promote the rule of law, enhance democratic local governance, and encourage the growth of democratic institutions, including legitimate political parties, as well as an independent media and judiciary. The United States supports activities that improve the skills of police, lawyers, judges, and court administrators to strengthen the administration of justice. The United States funds election monitoring efforts and local organizations' work on human rights, religious tolerance, civic participation, and women's and children's issues.
Within the country's constrained political and civic environment, the United States works to strengthen civil society and promote key democratic reforms, including termination of the longstanding State of Emergency. U.S. assistance simultaneously strengthens the management capacity and sustainability of civil society organizations and directly supports programs in diverse areas such as political reform, political party development, election monitoring, women's rights, civic education, anti-corruption, local governance, new media, and human rights. However, in some cases, the government presented obstacles to U.S. support for these activities. The United States remains persistent in engaging the government on the full range of human rights concerns, including religious freedom and trafficking in persons. The United States has indicated its opposition to any law that would further restrict the operations of nongovernmental organizations.
Part 2: Supporting Top Priorities and Other Aspects of Human
Rights and Democratic Governance
The United States promotes democratic, open, and participatory political processes and political reform through diplomacy, technical assistance, and training. Prior to the 2010 parliamentary elections, the United States is funding programs seeking to foster a more transparent and inclusive electoral process. With U.S. assistance, civil society groups continue to advocate for improvement of electoral processes in anticipation of parliamentary and presidential elections in 2010 and 2011 respectively. The United States is using a series of films, speakers, and Digital Video Conferences to encourage analytical thought about the role of government and to stimulate a cadre of voters interested in and prepared to think about political reform issues. The United States supports governmental institutions and local NGOs in initiating reform of the country's highly centralized and closed political system. With U.S. assistance, in 2009 the government expanded its pilot decentralization program nationwide. This effort aims to devolve specific fiscal and administrative authorities from the central to the regional and/or local level for the first time in the country's modern history. However, the government's commitment to the devolution of political authority (through an enhanced role for locally elected bodies or through elections at the regional level) remains in question.
U.S. programs support the efforts of U.S. NGOs and local civil society groups to strengthen civil institutions and increase civic awareness and political participation, with a particular focus on women and youth. Programs aim to help citizens call for accountability from elected and appointed government officials at the national and local levels. For example, the United States supports a model U.S. Congress program for Cairo University students, after which as many as 12 participants travel to the United States and shadow congressional staffers. The United States funds workshops on civic education for public school teachers and summer camps teaching democratic values and leadership for high school students. The United States also funds an exchange program through which 12 young American political leaders visit the country and interact with a multiparty group of local counterparts, and then travel to the United States. Through the International Visitor Leadership Programs and reporting tours, the United States sponsors electronic journalists, civic activists, and human rights advocates to travel to the United States and experience American democracy firsthand. The United States also continues its efforts to promote greater financial and editorial independence and professionalism in the media by assisting both state-owned and independent local print and electronic media. Through U.S. grants, several local NGOs document and counter instances of intolerance and hate speech in the print media and provide legal awareness training to journalists, as well as training on Internet, SMS messaging, and other forms of news media to raise awareness and promote civic participation.
Through U.S. technical assistance and training, the Ministry of Family and Population and the National Council for Women are strengthening legislation and regulations that protect the rights of women and children. The United States also provides funding for local NGOs to identify and respond to acts of violence against women and children, including actively campaigning against the entrenched practice of female genital mutilation. Through U.S. grants, local NGOs are producing human rights books for children, educating young people on their civic and political rights, and integrating human rights education into university programs. The United States also promotes religious freedom and raises specific concerns about government discrimination against the country's Christians, Baha'is, and other religious minorities. U.S. officials maintain strong relations with representatives of the country's various religious communities. The United States also supports local organizations' programs to increase religious tolerance and dialogue.
In the justice sector, the U.S. Government supports the Ministry of Justice and the Prosecutor General in improving the criminal justice system. This includes automating case management systems, providing the accused earlier access to effective defense counsel, educating prosecutors on human rights, and establishing information desks to help track case status. Working with the Ministry of Justice, the Ministry of Family and Population, and civil society organizations, the United States continues to strengthen the family courts' nationwide mediation and legal aid system. With U.S. support, local NGOs implement community-based activities focused on counseling services for families, community awareness on family law, and the rights of children. The United States has greatly expanded anti-corruption activities to promote a broader and deeper understanding among citizens of their rights and responsibilities in identifying and combating corruption. In partnership with international and local NGOs, the United States initiated a series of training programs to increase awareness of corruption at national and local levels and the impact of corruption on the economy and business climate.