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EU/Egypt: EU must address Egypt’s ‘abysmal’ human rights record  

Ahead of the EU-Egypt Association Council today (23 January 2024), European leaders must ensure that respect for human rights is at the core of all ties with Egypt. Amnesty International’s Head of the European Institutions Office and Advocacy Director, Eve Geddie said:  

“Despite stated commitments by both the EU and Egypt to promote human rights as part of their cooperation, EU leaders have ignored Egypt’s abysmal human rights record, emboldening the Egyptian government to continue committing human rights violations without fear of consequences.  

“EU leaders must reverse course and signal that failure to address Egypt’s human rights crisis contradicts a key pillar for collaboration with the EU. They must start by pressing the Egyptian authorities to release the thousands languishing in arbitrary detention, ease their stranglehold over civil society, and respect the rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly. 

“Amid its desire to deepen cooperation on migration control with Egypt, the EU must avoid the mistakes it made with Tunisia, Türkiye, and Libya. Egyptian authorities routinely arrest refugees and migrants for entering to or staying in the country irregularly, detain them in cruel and inhuman conditions and unlawfully deport some without adequate assessment of their protection needs. Meanwhile, the government has failed to rein in hate speech and hate crimes against refugees and migrants.” 

The EU must conduct a rigorous human rights risk assessment before signing cooperation agreements on migration control with Egypt. The bloc must also ensure that Egypt upholds the rights of migrants and refugees, while any official who violates their rights must be held accountable. 
“This is the EU’s first high-level meeting with Egypt since the country’s presidential election in 2023, which took place amid increased repression of critical voices and the barring of genuine political opposition candidates. We are calling on European leaders to strongly condemn ongoing human rights violations and crimes under international law in Egypt, and set human rights benchmarks to measure progress in EU-Egypt bilateral relations,” said Eve.  


On 23 January, the 27 foreign ministers of the European Union as well as Josep Borell, the High Representative of the European Commission, will meet Sameh Shoukry, Egypt’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, in Brussels to discuss deepening EU-Egypt cooperation on human rights, security, counter-terrorism and migration, as well as economic and social issues. 

Thousands remain arbitrarily detained in Egypt in cruel and inhuman conditions solely for exercising their human rights amid an unrelenting crackdown on dissent in the country.