Amid the Egyptian government’s sharp escalation in its crackdown on dissent and freedom of expression, the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies (CIHRS) commends the European Parliament’s adoption of an urgency resolution on Egypt during its Thursday October 24th plenary session. The resolution serves as an alarm bell in view of the international community’s mostly silent acquiescence to President Abdel Fattah al- Sisi’s retaliation against citizens for their actual or perceived support of the anti-government protests of late September.
According to Leslie Piquemal of CIHRS “This resolution should spur a stronger response by other EU institutions and member state governments; to avoid putting Egypt at risk of spiraling into a state of instability and repression worse than any endured by its people so far”.
20 parliamentarians speaking in the debate condemned the mass arbitrary arrests since late September, targeting civilians exercising their right to peaceful assembly and freedom of expression, as well as human rights lawyers and political party members. MEPs also denounced the Egyptian authorities’ arrest, torture and inhumane treatment of recently imprisoned activists and women’s rights defenders, notably rights lawyer Mohamed al Baqer, rights activist Alaa Abdel Fattah, and journalist Esraa Abdel Fattah. The pervasive use of torture in Egypt has become increasingly visible along with the government’s unprecedented repression against civil society and its alarmingly frequent use of the death penalty and extrajudicial executions, mass trials and mass executions, enforced disappearances, and other violations.
This intensifying onslaught, fueling a human rights crisis in near-complete impunity, contravenes Egypt’s bilateral political agreement with the European Union expressed in the 2017-20 Partnership Priorities. That policy document underscores cooperation to facilitate Egypt’s transition toward democracy, accountability and the promotion of fundamental rights. The Parliament’s 24 October, 2019 resolution
At least 12 Members of the European Parliament speaking in the debate, repeated the resolution’s call for a review of EU aid and cooperation with Egypt conditional on improvement of the human rights situation.
The resolution calls on the Egyptian authorities to: “immediately and unconditionally release all human rights defenders detained or sentenced merely for carrying out their legitimate and peaceful human rights work.” Those named included Eman Al-Helw, Mohamed Ibrahim, Mohamed Ramadan, Abdelrahman Tarek, Ezzat Ghoneim, Haytham Mohamadeen, Alaa Abdel Fattah, Ibrahim Metwally Hegazy, Mahienour El-Masry, Mohamed El-Baqer and Esraa Abdel Fattah; as well as those in held in pretrial detention in the Hope Coalition Case: Zyad el-Elaimy, Hassan Barbary and Ramy Shaath.” They also called for the immediate disclosure of the whereabouts of Ibrahim Ezz El-Din.
The European Parliament further calls on EU Member States to:
“halt exports to Egypt of surveillance technology and other security equipment that can facilitate attacks on human rights defenders and civil society activists, including on social media, as well as any other kind of internal repression;” and “for the EU to implement in full its export controls vis-à-vis Egypt with regard to goods that could be used for repression, torture or capital punishment…”
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