France: Suspend Arms Exports to Egypt Immediately

Egypt, Press Release, Shrinking Space for Civil Society

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The Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Network (EMHRN) is closely monitoring the worsening human rights situation in Egypt. This tendency was on display again on the fourth anniversary of the 25 January revolution, when new confrontations between the police and peaceful demonstrators resulted in the death of over twenty people.

In addition to the regular use of excessive force by the security services, with over 1400 deaths since the ousting of President Mohamed Morsi, Egypt has witnessed a general context of generalised repression of all protest movements, including widespread arrests, torture and arbitrary executions. The 2013 Law on assemblies led to hundreds of arrests and prosecution of important opposition figures, including Yara Sallam and Alaa Abdel Fattah, for organising gatherings that were deemed illegal. Since July 2013, the government has launched a campaign of mass arrests, resulting in the imprisonment of over 41,000 people. This crackdown targets all forms of dissenting voices, including alleged Muslim Brotherhood affiliates, human rights defenders and activists, students, journalists and media.

EMHRN is aware of the central role Egypt plays on the European and international diplomatic scenes, in particular in the fight against the advances of the terrorist organisation known as “Islamic State”. We are mindful of the international threat terrorism poses, which tragically struck France recently. We are also aware of the efforts the Egyptian authorities have made to combat armed violence against Egyptian citizens and the security forces. However, the banner of fighting terrorism is also used to severely repress critical and independent voices in Egypt. Human rights violations and absence of rule of law are contributing to violent radicalisation and recruitment of desperate youths by terrorist groups.

In view of this serious worsening of the human rights situation in Egypt and the commitments of the French government as stated in common position 2008/944/CFSP defining common rules governing control of exports of military technology and equipment and the conclusions of the Council of the European Union of 21 August 2013,  EMHRN calls on the French government to suspend immediately all exports of arms and security equipment to Egypt, as well as all contracts currently under negotiation  until the Egyptian authorities cease their violent repression of legitimate protest and defence of human rights.