Six years after Raba’a Massacre; Injustice Reigns, Authoritarianism Gains

Egypt, Justice and the Rule of Law, Statement

Read in:  Arabic 

EuroMed Rights strongly condemns the impunity enjoyed by the perpetrators of the Raba’a massacre and calls for them to be brought to justice. We encourage the EU to implement the 21 August 2013 EU Foreign Affairs Council Conclusions and call upon the EU member states to stop selling arms to authoritarian regimes such as Egypt.

On 14 August 2013, Egypt witnessed one of its bloodiest crackdowns against peaceful protesters in recent history. On that day, at least 800 persons taking part in a sit-in were killed by Egyptian security forces. The demonstrators had gathered at Nahda and Raba’a Al-Adawiya squares to protest against the military coup, which a month before saw the ousting of Egypt’s first democratically elected president, Mohamed Morsi. To this date, none of the decision-makers behind the massacre has ever been made accountable for their crimes.

Earlier this year, President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, who served as Defence Minister during the massacres in 2013, further consolidated his grip on power through constitutional amendments allowing him to remain in office until 2030. The amendments furthermore undermine the independence of the judiciary and allow the military to further intervene in civilian matters. These amendments followed the approval of a law in July 2018, which granted immunity to military officers who served between July 2013 and January 2016 – a decision that closed the possibility for establishing justice for the victims of the Raba’a and Nahda massacres.

In the meantime, more than 700 persons who attended the Raba’a sit-in have been tried and sentenced in a mass trial in September 2018, with 75 of the defendants given death sentences. The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights has warned that if implemented, it would pertain to a “gross and irreversible miscarriage of justice”. Other defendants were given life sentences or long prison terms. None were acquitted. Among those condemned, the photojournalist Mahmoud Abu Zeid, also known as Shawkan, who was covering the protests, was sentenced to five years in prison. Released in March this year, he continues to be subjected to abusive probation measures, which require him to spend 12 hours every night inside a police station.

European and other international actors must immediately cease to underpin the brutal authoritarian policies of the current Egyptian regime. In particular, they must cease the export of arms and surveillance technology to Egypt. The use of French-supplied military equipment during the Raba’a massacre was revealed in a report last year. Despite the European Union in 2013 deciding to suspend exports licences to Egypt of any equipment which might be used for “internal repression” and to reassess their security assistance to the country, between 2013 and 2017 France has gradually replaced the US as Egypt’s main supplier of weapons. Other EU member states have also continued supplying arms to Egypt. The sale of arms to Egypt and other authoritarian regimes must cease.