Death of GNRD 'high commissioner'

Anne-Marie Lizin, the Belgian politician who later became a key figure in GNRD, the controversial human rights organisation, died suddenly on Saturday. Mrs Lizin, who was 66, had been taken ill in Paris on 7 October and briefly hospitalised, apparently with heart problems. She then returned to her home town of Huy where she was said to have been recuperating in the Hotel du Fort.

Her death came less than three weeks after Belgium's supreme court rejected her appeal against a conviction for electoral malpractice, in effect ending her political career. She was given a one-year suspended prison sentence and banned from public office for five years.

Despite those legal problems Lizin played a key role in GNRD as its "High Commissioner" for Europe and head of its women's section. GNRD (Global Network for Rights and Development), which is funded almost entirely via the United Arab Emirates, also has legal problems of its own. It is under police investigation in Norway on suspicion of money-laundering (charges which it denies).

Last year, Lizin was a senior member of GNRD's observer mission for the presidential election in Egypt which legitimised General Sisi's seizure of power. A subsequent report hailed the election as "a unique process toward democratic transition".

In the light of her electoral crime in Belgium, it does seem extraordinary that GNRD included her in its observer mission for the Egyptian election. Although the decision to include her might be excused on the grounds that her case was still going through an appeal process at the time, it did raise questions about the credibility of GNRD's mission.

However, even after Lizin had exhausted all avenues of appeal in the Belgian court system, GNRD still included her in its latest plans for observing the Egyptian parliamentary elections, which are just beginning. In a tribute to her posted on its website yesterday, GNRD says: "Ms Lizin was supposed to join the GNRD observer mission to the parliamentary elections in Egypt, but death took her away."
Posted by Brian Whitaker
Sunday, 18 October 2015