November 12, 2007

Appendix: Human Rights Watch Letters to the Egyptian Minister of Interior on National ID Cards

January 13, 2006

-

BERLINBRUSSELSCHICAGO GENEVALONDONLOS ANGELESMOSCOW NEW YORKSAN FRANCISCOTORONTOWASHINGTON

His Excellency Gen. Habib Al-`Adli

Minister of Interior

Shaikh Rihan St.

Cairo, Egypt

Your Excellency:

Human Rights Watch is looking into the problems that some Egyptians have faced in securing national identification cards and other essential documents if they are not adherents of one of the three "recognized" religions Islam, Christianity, or Judaism or if they have converted from Islam to (or back to) another religion, namely Christianity.

We understand that responsibility for providing these documents resides with the Ministry of Interior's Department of Civil Affairs. Our deputy director, Joe Stork, requested a meeting with Gen. `Isam Bahgat, director of the Civil Affairs Department, during a two-week visit to Cairo in November. Officials responded that a meeting would not be possible and asked him to submit his questions in writing, promising him they would be answered.

Because we nevertheless wish to understand the position of the government on these matters, and to reflect accurately the government's position in any report we prepare, we hope that your office will respond to the following questions.

1)Is there a date by which only computerized "national number" identification cards will be accepted by government and other institutions, such as banks, and after which paper identification cards will no longer be recognized?

2)Can citizens request that their religion not be listed on their identification cards or birth certificates, or on applications for these and other necessary documents?

3)What procedures are required by law for a citizen to change his or her religious affiliation from Christian to Muslim? Are these procedures any different from those required to change one's religion from Muslim to Christian?

4)Are Egyptian citizens who adhere to the Baha'i faith able to list their religious affiliation in their national identification documents? What are the legal rules that regulate this matter?

5)Under what circumstances may Ministry officials confiscate the national identification card, birth certificate, passport, or other essential identification documents from citizens? What law(s) or regulation(s) govern the permissibility of confiscation? Are there any circumstances in which a person's professed religion may be the basis for such confiscation?

6)Under what circumstances, and on the basis of what law(s) or regulation(s), may the Ministry refuse the request of a citizen to secure a national identification card, birth certificate, passport, or other essential identification document? Are there any circumstances in which a person's professed religion may be the basis for refusing to issue such documents?

7)Are there public safety or other reasons why the Civil Affairs Department or other Ministry officials might seek to compel citizens to list in identification documents one or another religion, or to refrain from listing a particular religion in such documents, against the express wishes of the citizen?

8)Has the Ministry conducted any inquiries into allegations that Civil Affairs Department officials or State Security Investigation officers have unlawfully threatened incarceration or harm to persons on the basis of their professed religion? Has the Ministry instituted any disciplinary measures as a result of such inquiries?

We look forward to your response to these questions at your earliest convenience, preferably no later than February 12, so that we are able to include the government's position in a report we are preparing on this issue.

Thank you in advance for your consideration.

Sincerely,

-

Sarah Leah Whitson

Executive Director

Middle East and North Africa division

-

BERLINBRUSSELSCHICAGO GENEVALONDONLOS ANGELESMOSCOW NEW YORKSAN FRANCISCOTORONTOWASHINGTON

October 31, 2006

His Excellency Habib al-Adli

Minister of Interior

ArabRepublic of Egypt

Fax: + 202 579 2031

Your Excellency,

I am writing to follow up on our earlier letter to you of January 13, 2006. We have not yet received a response to this inquiry, and we would be grateful if we could hear from you at your earliest opportunity. This would enable us to reflect the views of the government in any future report we issue.

In addition to responding to our earlier questions, we also respectfully request Your Excellency to kindly provide us with a copy of the Civil Status Department's "Circular 49/2004 regarding the rules of recognizing religions in birth records and identification cards."

Thank you in advance for your consideration of this request. We look forward to hearing from you at your earliest opportunity.

Sincerely,

-

Sarah Leah Whitson

Executive Director