Egypt: 8 years after the revolution, systematic violations of human rights enabled by international silence

Egypt, Statement

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Brussels, Jan 24 2019

Eight years ago, Egyptians took to the streets to demand bread, freedom and dignity. Day after day since then, these legitimate aspirations have been deliberately crushed. Every time a human being is tortured, disappeared, extra-judicially killed, executed or arbitrarily arrested, Egypt’s authorities convey a clear message to their people: the change they demanded will not come.

Egypt’s government feels empowered by the silence of its international allies , in its quest to silence any voice denouncing the widespread human rights violations that occur in the country, it drastically curtails any avenue for peaceful dissent. Prominent human rights defenders, journalists, bloggers, and activists are imprisoned or harassed for exercising their fundamental rights.

While counter-terrorism and security-related legislation is increasingly used to repress civil society, the military regime shields itself from accountability. A law adopted in 2018 grants high-ranking military officials lifelong immunity from prosecution. To this date, no officials, police or army officer have been held accountable for the use of excessive force that resulted in the killing of hundreds of peaceful protesters in Rabaa in 2013.

By remaining silent on Egypt’s repressive policies, the EU and its Member States put into question their actual commitment to the promotion of human rights and rule of law. The EU-Egypt Association Council of December 2018 failed to heed the unequivocal call of the European Parliament to “maintain a strong and unified position on the EU’s stance on human rights at the meeting”.

The military regime’s violations of human rights threaten the stability of the country and therefore cannot continue with impunity. The fight against terrorism does not justify the repression against human rights activists. We hope that during the upcoming EU – Arab League summit that will take place in Cairo in February, the EU and its Member States will seize the opportunity to uphold their values and publicly send a real message of hope to the Egyptian people. Otherwise, it will just be another occasion for President Al-Sisi’s regime to burnish its international image.