EU: Egypt’s dark human rights record must not be swept beneath carpet

The EU appears in danger of softening its stance on human rights violations in Egypt by resuming annual high-level meetings with the Egyptian Minister of Foreign Affairs and his delegation in Brussels next week, said Amnesty International.

The upcoming EU-Egypt Association Council meeting is set to take place in Brussels on 25 July. The meetings had been suspended after the 2011 uprising but with concerns over regional security and migration on the rise there are fears that EU member states are more willing to turn a blind eye to grave human rights violations in the country.

“There is a real danger that concerns over Egypt’s human rights record could be swept under the carpet as the EU prioritizes security, migration and trade at the expense of human rights. The EU must make absolutely clear at, and after this meeting, that it will not compromise over Egypt’s human rights record,” said David Nichols, Senior Executive Officer for EU foreign policy at Amnesty International.

There is a real danger that concerns over Egypt’s human rights record could be swept under the carpet as the EU prioritizes security, migration and trade at the expense of human rights
David Nichols, Senior Executive Officer for EU foreign policy at Amnesty International

After the Rabaa massacrein August 2013, when Egypt’s security forces killed at least 900people in one day, the EU member states agreed tosuspendexport licenses of any equipment which might be used for internal repression.

The EU Country Reporton Egypt published ahead of the meeting however fails to even mention the 2013 Rabaamassacre or the fact that since then, no security official has been held accountable or even been investigated over the killings. It also remained silent on the use of extra-judicialexecutions, forced evictions of thousandsof families in Sinai, and failure to prosecute those responsible for sectarian attacks on Coptic Christians.

Security forces in Egypt enjoy full impunity for ongoing violations such as enforced disappearances, torture, deaths in custody and extrajudicial executions. Despite these violations, almost half of EU member states continued toexporttypes of arms that can be used in internal repression, in violation of their obligations under international law.

“While the EU and Egypt are meeting in Brussels, an unprecedented wave of human rights violations continues in Egypt. In the last year and a half dozens of human rights defenders had their assets frozen, faced travel bans or been hauled before investigative judges on bogus charges that could land them in prison for life and see independent organizations shut down.

While the EU and Egypt are meeting in Brussels, an unprecedented wave of human rights violations continues in Egypt
David Nichols, Senior Executive Officer for EU foreign policy at Amnesty International

“Disturbingly, while civil society has been further restricted, security forces have been given free rein to commit widespread abuses including arbitrary detention, torture and unlawful killings. The EU must use its leverage over Egypt and be clear that they will not stay silent on Egypt’s dark human rights record including while the Egyptian foreign minister is in Brussels next week” said David Nichols.

The meeting takes place almost one and a half years since the horrific killing of Italian PhD student Giulio Regeni, and as an Irish citizen and prisoner of conscience, Ibrahim Halawa, spends his fourth year in prison while facing a grossly unfair mass trial. Neither case is mentioned in the EU Country report. Amnesty International calls on the EU to support a call for an effective, independent and impartial investigation into the disappearance and tragic death of Giulio and the immediate and unconditional release of Ibrahim Halawa.

Amnesty International addressed these concerns in a letter sent to the High Representative of the EU, Federica Mogherini, on 4 July.