ACM represented at DFAT NGO Forum on Human Rights 2018

Minister for Foreign Affairs Julie Bishop addressing civil society participants at the 2018 DFAT NGO Forum on Human Rights (DFAT/Linda Roche)

Discussions across the day focussed on the five priority pillars of Australia’s Human Rights Council engagement: gender equality, freedom of expression, good governance and robust democratic institutions, human rights for indigenous peoples, and strong national human rights institutions.  This is the third consecutive year we attended the annual Forum.  

On the 8th of February, David Fouad represented the Australian Coptic Movement Association (ACM) at the 2018 Department of
Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) NGO Forum on Human Rights. This is the third consecutive year the ACM has attended the annual Forum which aims at providing an opportunity for engagement directly with civil society by hearing their views on international human rights issues. This year’s Forum was particularly significant as it is the first since Australia commenced its three-year term on the United Nations Human Rights Council. It was opened by First Assistant Secretary of the Multilateral Division, Dr. Justin Lee and Secretary, Francis Adamson, with the Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Hon. Julie Bishop also in attendance.

During the interactive dialogue on religious freedom, participants were asked what they saw as the key challenges to religious freedom in 2018-19, opportunities which Australia could take to combat pressing matters on the international scene, as well as what the top priority should be for government action in 2018. The freedom to change religion was raised as a key challenge by a number of participants, and the issue of impunity – particularly in Egypt – was put forward as one of the top priorities for government action in the coming year. Blasphemy and apostasy laws were also mentioned as key points of concern.

In private, the plight of the Copts in Egypt was raised, noting again the problem of impunity, the golf between rhetoric and reality, as well as the injustice of ‘reconciliation sessions’. Australian advocacy for justice for religious minorities when they fall victim to sectarian violence was also requested. The representative for DFAT was appreciative and concerned in his response. He provided reassurances that Australian officials are very engaged on the issue of Coptic persecution and that they raise it on a regular basis, adding that DFAT representatives had met with Coptic bishops in 2017 as well as Coptic leaders internationally.

“We would like to thank DFAT for their invitation to the forum and look forward to contributing to future meetings with the Australian government.”

Australian Coptic Movement Association



The Australian Coptic Movement Association Ltd (ACM) was founded in 2010

The ACM is a community advocacy group that fights for human rights in Egypt by exposing the persecution suffered by Copts and other minorities. We also stand for greater political and civil liberties, and call for the justice and security of Coptic Christians.

ACM activities have included organizing rallies, cultural events, lobbying the Australian government to pass motions in the Federal and NSW Houses of Parliament, conducting letter-writing campaigns, releasing media statements, publishing material (including our own book) providing support to Coptic asylum seekers, and encouraging Copts to assimilate into the wider community.

Now, more than ever, we are in great need of independent civil society community groups to play an influential role locally and overseas. The Team at the Australian Coptic Movement Association is seeking support to continue its advocacy work by opening a fully resourced office. Help us fastrack our plans so we can better serve our community.

Account Name: The Australian Coptic Movement Association Ltd
BSB: 032 – 273
Account: 317405
Donations greater than $2.00 are tax deductible.

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